Saint John Don Bosco:

"Never read books you aren't sure about . . . even supposing that these bad books are very well written from a literary point of view. Let me ask you this: Would you drink something you knew was poisoned just because it was offered to you in a golden cup?"

To find more books by your favorite author, click on the author's name in the title...

Also, try searching by "historical fiction" if you're looking for novels at a certain time period...

Monday, June 20, 2011

The Cat Who Went to Heaven by Elizabeth Coatsworth

This story presents itself as softly and elegantly as the cat it features.
I find it astonishing that we’ve studied Asian culture at least twice “formally” as we homeschool, and I only just discovered Elizabeth Coatsworth’s beautiful story:

Setting: Japan

Characters: Buddhist artist; housekeeper; cat named Good Fortune

Plot: hungry artist sends housekeeper for food. He doesn't want the cat she brings back instead of food. Soon, he receives great opportunity to paint the Buddha for the temple and thus ensure his career.

This good fortune is attributed to the cat. Because of the cat’s dogged determination, (that was on purpose), the artist paints the cat into the picture and displeases the temple priests. When hope for the artist's future seems lost, a miracle occurs.

Readability: high

Read-aloud: highly recommended

Quality of writing: high

It’s a lyrical, lovely story. The artist meditates upon the life of the Buddha before attempting to paint him and the surrounding animals. Each meditation unfurls the outline of the story of the Buddha. The power of the story, as in all good ones, lies in its entirety. There is the dignity and mystery of the cat; the humility of the housekeeper, which is the foundation of religious growth. Poems of the housekeeper appear as their own chapters.

Not uncoincidentally, the author meditates and paints the tiger into the picture before the cat. The tiger, he concludes, is worthy of blessing from the ferocity of the power of love. But the cat, legend has it, refused the Buddha’s blessing and must pay the price for its decision. There is a ferocity in the love the artist exhibits as he paints the cat into the picture, convinced his own cat will be pleased. There is a fiercely satisfying ending.

Our particular copy was enhanced by the illustrations of Raoul Vitale. It was an Aladdin paperback. Look for that particular edition!

Catholic parents need to know that reincarnation features prominently, and, of course, it is a reflection of what Buddhists believe about the Buddha. I would also be mindful of the idea presented that holiness is increased by the decision not to eat animals, and animals in general are elevated to the point where the line between human and animal souls is blurred.

SAFETY RATING: (3 Flags; assuming child is well-catechized)

See: Catechism of the Catholic Church: reincarnation: 1013


Post a Comment

regina was here

  © Blogger templates Psi by 2008