Mark Reibstein writes a story about a cat who lives in Japan named Wabi Sabi. The oddity of this is that the cat has no idea what her name means. She asks creatures around her, but none of them are sure how to explain its meaning. Finally she visits an old, wise monkey. He tells her to take a closer look at things in nature, the shades of her bowls, her reflection in the water. Wabi Sabi does what the monkey says and when she discovers the beauty of all these simple things, including herself, she discovers the significance of her name and is now at peace.
Wabi Sabi is a truly unique book. Reibstein relates the tale using both prose and haiku woven throughout the story. The two are put together as one, introducing children to the beauty of poetry while teaching them a small lesson they might not even realize. The pages also contain haiku written as they would be in traditional Japanese. These poems are translated at the end of the book, and until then they provide a cultural flair and a source of interest to children handling the book.
Ed Young creates marvelous paper collages that almost seem to jump out of the book with their three-dimensional appearance. They mesh together perfectly with the tone of the book. Children may find themselves running fingers over the pages to see if they can actually feel the crumpled and layered bits of paper. The book itself opens up instead of to the side like most books. A perfect book for anyone looking for a change in the usual style of children’s books.