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Wabi Sabi    by Mark Reibstein & Ed Young order for
Wabi Sabi
by Mark Reibstein
Order:  USA  Can
Little, Brown & Co., 2008 (2008)
* * *   Reviewed by Michelle York

How would you explain a difficult concept as Japanese Wabi Sabi to American children?

Well, you might start with the inexplicable charm of Charlie Brown's Christmas tree. But, if you're a children's writer, you probably want to come up with something more original which is exactly what Mark Reibstein did.

In his new children's book, Reibstein writes about a cat named Wabi Sabi who goes in search of the meaning of his name. He seeks out a wise old monkey who shows him that Wabi Sabi means, in essence, that simple, imperfect things are beautiful and evoke a feeling of comfort. The monkey gives his advice in a series of haikus, and haikus in Japanese script are also laced into the illustrations. (Translations are in the back of the book.)

Former Caldecott Medal winner Ed Young intricately illustrates Wabi Sabi with warm, earthy tones. He slowly transforms his depictions of the cat into something more simple, which underscores the meaning of Wabi Sabi.

The book, published by Little Brown & Company, is aimed at readers ages 3 to 6, though older children and adults will appreciate its nuances even more. The book is almost too beautiful to itself be considered Wabi Sabi, but it does give you a feeling of beauty and warmth.

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