The Chinese Siamese Cat

Amy Tan, Author, Gretchen Schields, Illustrator Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing $16.95 (32p) ISBN 978-0-02-788835-5
In this charming original folktale from the pair who produced The Moon Lady , a mother cat tells her kittens the true story of their ancestry: ``You are not Siamese cats but Chinese cats.'' She proudly informs them that they are descended from Sagwa of China, who lived during the reign of the Foolish Magistrate. Sagwa's parents, we learn, had the hapless task of dipping their tails in ink to record the dour dictates of the Foolish Magistrate. After inadvertently landing in the ink pot one day (hence acquiring the familiar dark markings of the Siamese cat), Sagwa uses her blackened pawprints to delete the word ``not'' from the magistrate's latest ruling, whereupon it is promulgated that ``People must sing until the sun goes down.'' Foolish Magistrate is outraged, but when he suddenly realizes his subjects are chanting his praises, he changes his tune, reversing the laws and declaring that henceforth all Chinese felines will have dark faces, ears, paws and tails--in honor of Sagwa. Featuring inventive borders and vivid, if occasionally garish hues, Schield's energetic illustrations prove, once again, an atmospheric counterpart to Tan's vivacious narration. Ages 5-8. (Sept.)
Reviewed on: 08/29/1994
Release date: 09/01/1994
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