Wabi Sabi - Mark Reibstein (2008)

 Asian/Pacific American Award for Literature (Picture Books) - 2009 

        Is it the heart? Or, the eyes? Which sees beauty? The ancient tradition of Japan, Wabi Sabi, (rooted from Chinese origin) can give a perfect answer to this question. Wabi Sabi is an aesthetic Japanese tradition, where the heart sees the beauty in simple, modest and imperfect things.

An imperfect perfection

        Wabi Sabi is the name of a cat, who lives in Japan. Once, when visitors from foreign land ask for the meaning of her name, all her master could say was "That's hard to explain", with  a drawn breath. There starts Wabi Sabi's journey, in search of the meaning of her name. She meets her cat friend, a mean dog, a by-passing bird and a wise monkey and asks her question. Everyone replies with a haiku, that implies part of the answer to her question.

       "Is it imperfect? Is it ordinary? Is it humble? Or, is it all combined? What is Wabi Sabi really?"

My Comments :

         How much, I have always loved sipping hot tea in my heavy mug, on a rainy evening? And, that was the feeling, I got while reading this book, nothing less. It is a rare combination of sublime collages and classy haikus, binded together with a engaging narration. (At times, I thought of  'Last Stop On Market Street' by 'Matt De La Pana' while reading this book. They both talk about beauty, while one talks about beauty from viewers' perspective and the other, from viewpoint's perspective.)

         About being a children's book, this book works more with kids, who have mature thoughts about perspectives and layered meanings of life. My third grader was able to comprehend the Wabi Sabi concept overall, but not to the deep extent, the book highlights.

        You could either be an art lover, a poem lover or a book lover. Any way, this book can gratify your taste. At the very moment, when the cat, Wabi Sabi, understands the meaning of her name, she sees her reflection in the tea bowl (Again, 'Wow' to Ed Young's collage).  Just like the cat, your mind can also reflect some more meanings of life, around, after reading this book.

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  1. I've never heard of this one. It sounds like it could be a fun read when the kiddos get older.

    1. Yes, this book works with little mature thoughts. Even, I am planning to re-introduce this book to my kids later a few years after. Thanks for the comment.

  2. This looks great! I love Wabi Sabi design from Japan and I need to read this book! Thanks for sharing at the Kid Lit Blog Hop.

    1. Thanks Pragmaticmom. This is my first time reading about this concept and I can see its beauty. Hope you enjoy the book.


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