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Overview

The award-winning and New York Times bestselling book about a cat named Wabi Sabi who searches for the meaning of her name

Wabi Sabi, a little cat in Kyoto, Japan, had never thought much about her name until friends visiting from another land asked her owner what it meant.

At last, the master
Says, "That's hard to explain." And
That is all she says.


This unsatisfying answer sets Wabi Sabi on a journey to uncover the meaning of her name, and on the way discovers what wabi sabi is: a Japanese philosophy of seeing beauty in simplicity, the ordinary, and the imperfect.

Using spare text and haiku, Mark Reibstein weaves an extraordinary story about finding real beauty in unexpected places. Caldecott Medal-winning artist Ed Young complements the lyrical text with breathtaking collages. Together, they illustrate the unique world view that is wabi sabi.

A New York Times Best Illustrated Children's Book for 2008!

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781440719219
Publisher: Recorded Books, LLC
Publication date: 04/03/2009
Product dimensions: 4.25(w) x 2.75(h) x 6.30(d)

About the Author

Mark Reibstein is an English teacher and writer who has lived in New York, California, Hawaii, Japan, and Thailand. Now Mark and his daughter live near San Francisco with their good friend Arlo, who is also a cat. This is his first picture book.

Ed Young has illustrated for over 70 books and has been awarded the Caldecott Medal for Lon Po Po and the Caldecott Honors for Seven Blind Mice and The Emperor and the Kite. He lives in upstate New York with his daughters.

Customer Reviews

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Wabi Sabi 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 31 reviews.
Prof_McGonagall More than 1 year ago
Looking at the artsy "illustrations" one might think that this book was written only to display the wonderful artwork of the author. But if it had no illustrations, I would still love this story. A Japanese cat looks for the meaning of her name, which is abstract and conceptual. No one seems to be able to explain its meaning, and as she searches for someone who can, she gains clues about it from her journey. Finally, as she returns home, the meaning of her name becomes clear. This story is told with haiku poetry in the margins. It suggests that sometimes words must be felt to be explained, and that many times less is more. Primary grade children can understand this story, which also lends itself to a lesson on Japanese culture and of course, haiku, for older children.
pjw1173 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This book is about a cat named Wabi Sabi who decides that she must find out what her name means and goes about trying to learn its meaning. She finds animals who try to help but just can't explain it to her before she puts all of what she learned together. The artwork is done in a collage manner. This is another book that I just couldn't connect with as a reader. As a mentor text, it could be used to get students thinking about what their names mean.
szierdt on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
"Wabi Sabi is a way of seeing the world that is at the heart of Japanese culture. It finds beauty and harmony in what is simple, imperfect, natural , modest and mysterius. It can be a little dark, but it is also warm and comfortable. It may best be understoood as afeeling, rather than as an idea." Through this Japanese inspired story, Wabi Sabi the plain cat sets out to find the meaning fo her name. Illustrations utilize collage and fantastic graphic design. Lots of texture, balance and the book reads top to bottom creating a fun verticle exploration. Elements of proverbs and poetry explored as well, Japenese cultural representations throughout.
Hartleyca on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Beautiful Ed Young art with torn paper collage, haikuAvailable in soundrecording
mahallett on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
very good illustrations. nothing story
Mparis on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Wabi Sabi doesn't know the meaning of her name and she goes in search of it far and wide. She finally finds the beauty of her name in a reflection of herself. Haiku is used to help her understand the beauty in nature around her. Amazingly illustrated through use of textural collage. This story is beautifully told of the meaning of Wabi Sabi.Classroom connection: Study of Japan/Japanese culture, learning about haiku
D.Holliman on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I thought that this book was a great way to introduce children to foreign cultures, ideas, and practices. It shows them another form of beauty, as well as introducing them to Haiku poetry. Young¿s illustrations are really beautiful. I love how he combines collages with more traditional looking Japanese art and writing.
BrennaSheridan on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Wabi Sabi is one of the most beautiful and inspiring children¿s picture books I have read. It tells the story of a cat named Wabi Sabi living in Kyoto, Japan searching for the meaning of its name. Through its adventures and friends it makes along the way, it finds the true meaning for itself¿ beauty in simplicity. This book not only contains a story, poems, and beautiful illustrations, but it also shows snapshots of unique art pieces representing different characters in the story. It is inspiring on multiple levels.
allie_mansfield on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Even though I'm not a fan of cats, I thought this book was a great story for children. I like how the format and setup with the book was different. It read vertically, and not horizontally. The illustrations had a very asian theme.
ffox on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A wonderfully illustrated and beautifully told story of the search for beauty/identity. I loved this book but do have some concerns that the changing writing styles may make this difficult for new readers to follow.
TeacherLibrarian on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Reibstein, Mark. Wabi Sabi. (2008). New York: Little, Brown and Company. Wabi Sabi, a Japanese cat, wonders what the meaning of her name is. Her master, along with various animals in the house whom she asks, tell her it¿s hard to explain, so they try to describe it in haiku, which describe feelings and nature. She doesn¿t understand until she travels to the woods to ask Kosho, a wise old monkey. He, too, explains using haiku, and she finally understands that her name means, ¿Simple things are beautiful.¿ This is a lovely book that young and middle elementary students will enjoy. The dark and muted colors of the illustrations convey a soft, gentle mood. The illustrations are fairly realistic and paper-cut materials add dimension. The illustrations work together with the text and haiku to express the book¿s theme, the Japanese concept of beauty in the ordinary and simple.
mcrotti on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Wabi Sabi is a beautifully told and illustrated story of a Japanese cat searching for the meaning of her name. The concept of wabi sabi, as defined in the introduction to the book, involves finding beauty in simple, natural, imperfect things. Wabi Sabi the cat sets out on an adventure through the city and the woods, asking many animal friends along the way if they can explain her name to her. The creatures she meets use haiku to communicate the concept to her. The book includes an introduction defining wabi sabi, a short history lesson regarding the term, and a short paragraph explaining the art of haiku. It would be wonderful for libraries to have on hand, as it is very simply written. Young children can get a brief introduction to Japanese culture and poetry through this charming tale featuring cats, dogs, and monkeys among other creatures. An activity where slightly older children try their hand at haiku would be quite fun for a storytime program.
savannah.julian on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A little cat from Kyoto, Japan, named Wabi Sabi hadn't put much thought into the meaning of her name until friends from a foreign land asked her owner what it meant. Her master's only reply was, "That's hard to explain." Displeased by her answer, Wabi Sabi goes on a journey to uncover the meaning of her name. Each animal she meets along the way gives her the same answer, "That's hard to explain" until she she finds a wise old monkey. Through haiku he shows her what her name means: a Japanese philosophy of seeing beauty in simplicity and the ordinary. An intriguing story, creative illustrations, and beautiful haikus make this enjoyable for the reader and the listener. A great introduction to Japanese culture.
lporsia on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The picture book winner of the Asian/Pacific American Librarians Association Asian/Pacific American Award for Literature (APAAL) for 2009, Wabi Sabi is an enchanting fictional story of a cat who searches for the meaning of his name. Written by Mark Reibstein and illustrated by Ed Young, the team takes the reader on a journey from the home, into the streets and wilderness of Japan to gain the full understanding of Wabi Sabi, which is a feeling or way of viewing the world that requires an experience rather than a definition. This exploration into Japanese culture leaves an inspiring feeling for the audience, to see the goodness in what they have and not take the little things for granted. By including traditional Japanese haikus and their explanations in English the author provides a look into Japanese culture while creating an interactive learning experience. Wabi Sabi is a good book for librarians to read for story time since the illustrations can be used to familiarize the audience with Japanese terrain while assisting in the interpretation of the experience of Wabi Sabi as a way of seeing the world. Additionally librarians and teachers alike could make use of the haikus for educational purposes while challenging children to create their own sayings.
emgalford on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Reibstein, M. (2008). Wabi Sabi. New York: Little Brown.In this picture book, a cat named Wabi Sabi goes on a quest to learn the meaning of her name. After overhearing her master say that it is hard to explain the meaning of her name, the cat feels the need to find it out on her own. She goes on a journey from her house in Kyoto, to the mountains, and the city. Along the way she talks to many animals including monkeys, dogs, and birds. Eventually she finds the meaning of her name. It is a Japanese concept meaning "beauty and harmony in what is simple, imperfect, natural, modest and mysterious." This book is compelling to readers from different times and places. The meaning of Wabi Sabi is timeless Japanese concept that can be applied to everyday life. This book is a winner of the Asian/Pacific American Award for literature.This book would be an excellent addition to an elementary school library. Throughout the book, the author uses Japanese poems called haikus. This book could be used in relation to a poetry unit in a classroom.
LisaBohman on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is a story about a cat named Wabi Sabi who questions the meaning of his name. Wabi Sabi leaves home to find the true meaning of his name, eventually realizing that ¿simple things are beautiful.¿ Haikus are interwoven throughout the story as well and their meanings are revealed at the end of the book. The illustrations in this book are creative and integrate natural and human-made materials to create collages. This book could be used to teach a lesson on collages and using creative materials to depict a scene or story. This book could also be used for a poetry lesson.
BugsyBoog on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
In this beautiful and unique picture book, a cat named Wabi Sabi questions his name, asking his owner the meaning. Wabi Sabi is a traditional Japanese idea about finding beauty in simple, ordinary things. Wabi Sabi the cat asks others around him and is eventually directed to a wise monkey who leads the perplexed kitty to the realization. The much wiser cat eventually gets back home to his owner. Each page of this lovely book has a haiku to complement the ideas and lead the reader to appreciate the simple verses. This book opens up like a tablet (not left to right like an ordinary book), to further allow the reader to appreciate the Japanese reading style. The artwork by Ed Young depicts the animals and nature scenes simply, using multimedia. Each page has unique textures and colors, sometimes using photographs and painted canvas as the medium. It is hard to explain; one really has to see the art to understand the technique. At the end of the story, there are thorough explanations of wabi sabi and haiku, and each haiku from the story is repeated with the Japanese characters. This book is a gem, and it provides numerous learning opportunities and an appreciation of Japanese culture. This book could easily be used in the classroom to show kids haiku as a form of poetry, but also as a way to find beauty in ordinary things. As a classroom activity, kids could write their own haikus about ordinary everyday things in their lives. As far as the artwork, kids could experiment with their own multimedia artwork using things they find around their home. Perhaps they could create a piece of artwork around a given theme, like items all a certain color. I think the mixed media artwork in this book is really pretty fun and interesting, and I think kids would appreciate putting found objects together in new ways.
nieva21 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is a very reflective book about starting from where you are, as well as knowing yourself in the moment. It¿s also about not knowing and how that¿s okay. All of this Eastern wisdom is something valuable we can learn from. We learn about meditation and relaxing, as well. This quote 'How many, many things They bring to mind¿Cherry blossoms!,' implies the limitless quality of life and wonderment. I really loved the origami-like quality of the art on the pages, as they popped off of the page. The art reminded me of a Japanese scroll.
vpfluke on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is a beautiful book. The bare story is that of a cat in Japan who sets out to find the meaning of his name, Wabi Sabi. We are brought into the beuatiful world of Japanese aethetics, where you have to sit with art to probe into its meaning or significance. The art work by Ed Young, composed of painterly looking collages, is striking. The story by Mark Reibstein is charming, and although intended for a juvenile audience can be absorbed equally by adults.
JanaRose1 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A cat named Wabi Sabi living in the city of Kyoto, overhears foreigners asking what her name means. Puzzled, she begins to ask all of the animals around her in an attempt to uncover its meaning. Eventually, Wabi Sabi travels to Mount Hiei to ask a wise monkey what her name means. The book alternates between normal text and haiku poems in order to add beauty and wabi sabi, to the story.
Nhritzuk on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The scrapbook style illustrations are amazing: I was mesmerized and couldn't help but turn back to look longer. The combination of haikus and text made this an interesting read. I also appreciated the Japanese cultural elements and the idea that a name should reflect the qualities of the person it belongs to.
U-M More than 1 year ago
The art is beautiful, and the story delightful!
flowergirlinward17 More than 1 year ago
It is very rare to find a children's picture book that has all the elements that make it an instant classic. It has a beautiful story of a cat searching for the meaning of her name and learns (as well as the reader) the meaning of her place in the world at the same time. It has beautiful haiku poems that are not only beautiful, and descriptive of each place the cat visits on her journey, but each haiku brings a measure of peace at each stage of the journey to the reader as well. The mixed media illustrations, made with natural materials, bring a sense of presence to the reader and viewer, in that it is easy for the reader and viewers to put themselves in the picture and join the cat on her journey in search of her own meaning and place in her world. The author beautifully conveys the message of home and love as the place for a beloved pet to be in the big world it inhabits. This is one of the few books I purchased brand-new for my personal collection, and is on my "special" shelf. I hope it stays a classic and a favorite in my collection for many of my own family's future generations.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is a book I will read to many children and encourage them to make their own collages.
Rose810 More than 1 year ago
This story is an excellent story for an audience that is concerned about things much more insignificant than real beauty. People of all ages can benefit from reading this story because it teaches that outer beauty isnt always the most imporant thing. The development of the Japanese culture is also a very interesting and exciting factor. Poetry is also an aspect of this story which makes it appropriate for a wide audience as well as being potentially beneficial in a classroom!