The Emperor’s Cat
Illustrated by D. Brent Burkett
Cricket Books, an imprint of Carus Publishing Company, 2005
From the dust jacket: “No one, not even the most exalted mandarin, was permitted to gaze directly upon the face of the great Kwan-Yu, Celestial Emperor of China (and embodiment of the Nine Heavenly Virtues.) But, Dream-of-Jade, a green-eyed cat, as curious as she was beautiful, decided that she wanted to do just that. she slipped into the empty Throne Room and sat upon the Imperial throne herself. When Kwan-Yu arrived, she did not give up her seat but pointed out the dangerous state of the Emperors ceiling right above his throne.
“Thus began the great friendship between an Emperor and a little white cat with green eyes, who not only saved the Emperor’s life at their first meeting, but who knew how to cure his ailments, made him laugh, and found ways to entertain him. Dream-of-Jade’s greatest wish was to make Kwan-Yu the best emperor who had ever ruled the Celestial empire.”
When we first got this book at the library, Simon thought it was going to be another picture book for him to review; but then once he got a look at it, he handed it over to me since it is more in my realm of things. The book is a story book for older kittens with pictures included.
The oil paintings/illustrations are luminous with glowing detail. They are lush and beautiful, masterpieces as far as I’m concerned.
The stories of Dream-of-Jade and the Emperor are how the cat looks and then cures emperor; makes the emperor laugh; accepts a gift from the emperor; and finally, how Dream-of-Jade makes the laws of the empire. They reminded me a bit of Aesop’s Fables, where the main focus of the story is on learning a lesson or moral. The ancient Chinese culture is either well-researched or well-imagined, however I don’t know that much – if anything at all – of ancient Chinese culture, so am unable to know if the author ‘got it right’. Mom googled Emperor Kwan-Yu for me but found him only in this book.
Rating: 4 out of 5 paws because the stories are well told and enjoyable but the illustrations are quite beautiful and outshine the words.