I am Tama, Lucky Cat

I am Tama, Lucky Cat by Wendy Henrichs, with illustrations by Yoshiko Jaeggi, is based on one of the versions of the Japanese legend of Maneki Neko, which literally translated means Beckoning Cat. Maneki Neko is also known as Lucky Cat, Welcoming Cat, or Fortune Cat. 

From the publisher:

Under the shadows of the white-capped mountains of Japan, a white cat with unusual markings arrives at the door of a rundown temple. With little more than a few grains of rice to share, a kind and gentle monk take him in and names him Tama, after the river of the monk’s boyhood memories. As Tama gets accustomed to life in the temple, he promises he will bring good fortune to his new master and the worshippers who come to pray. One afternoon, a mighty spring storm gives Tama the chance to do just that, and he earns the nickname “Lucky Cat.”

Heinrich’s almost lyrical style of telling the story, combined with Jaeggi’s absolutely charming illustrations, create a special magic. I found myself pausing at each page, absorbing the words, and losing myself in the pictures. The drawings of the cat capture feline body language and emotion purrfectly and make you feel like you want to reach out and touch Tama.  

In addition to telling Tama’s story, the book also provides a glimpse into Japanese culture and the teachings of the Buddha. When Tama first arrives at the temple, he realizes that his monk “never considered his own hunger, but looked with compassion upon the hollow cheeks of his people…It was for me and the temple worshippers that he wanted more food…more warmth…more comfort.”

This beautiful book is aimed at children ages 4-8, but I think adults will enjoy it equally as much.

I’m giving away one copy of this book. To enter the giveaway, please leave a comment and let me know why you’d like to win the book. For an additional chance to win, share this giveaway on Twitter or Facebook and share the link in a separate comment. This giveaway ends Friday, August 5.

July 26 update: Wendy Heinrichs generously offered a second copy for this giveaway, and she’ll even personalize and autograph it for the lucky winner!

This book was sent to me by the publisher.

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49 Comments on Book review and giveaway: I am Tama, Lucky Cat

  1. Hej! I’d love to win the book since I’m running a (german) Blog focussing solely on Lucky Cats (translates to Winkekatze in German). Have a nice day! Greetings, Winkekatze

    • Unfortunately, the giveaway ended on August 5, but thanks for visiting. I love your site. I grew up in Germany. I didn’t realize that “Winkekatze” was the German word for the Maneki Neko cat.

  2. I would love to win this book. I had a beloved Tortie who has went over the rainbow bridge. I named her after a book called Tasha the dancing cat. Tasha was a very sweet cat.

  3. I would love to win this book. I’m a teacher, and we are going to focus on animals this year in school! This book would be a wonderful addition to my little library.

  4. I so love cats. I have 8 of my own, mainly because people seem to think they’re disposable and dump them off at my house. I have taken my love of cats (and animals in general) and started my own pet sitting business. I’m not getting rich doing it of course, but I love every minute of it.

    I would so love to have this book because it is about a cat of course, and because it fits in with my trying to be more positive in my life, and I am reading the teachings of Buddha in order to get to that point. When I meditate, which I have recently started doing, I often picture a cat in my mind. They are so Zen-like.

  5. I shared this on my Facebook: facebook.com/susanbellnc. I hope not many people click on it though. I really want to win a copy. 🙂

  6. I’d love to win a copy of this book because I have known Wendy since our children were little and I know she has to be a terrific writer because she is a very special lady! I am so happy for her getting her work published!

  7. Great book! My neighbor’s kids love cats but are still learning to be gentle…maybe this book would help!

  8. I would love to win the book because I collect maneki neko cats and I have a few real cats, too!

  9. I have been told that I have the soul from being Japanese in a previous life. I am absolutely intrigued by this story of the maneki neko and of your beautiful illustrations. I collect Japnese dolls, maneki nekos and cats. We would be most honored to have a signed copy of this wonderful book in our home. Thank you

  10. I would like to win this book because I will appreciate it. I surround myself with cats and people who love cats. I would love to display it on my bookshelf as artwork. (Love the cover.)
    I also appreciate the Buddhist teachings.

    Oh – and as Lyn5 said above, I, too, had a “wasting” cat that I nursed back to a good life with me for an additional 7 years.

  11. My 10 y-o nephew is a cat lover and has always been particularly attracted to the Lucky Cat (I had to let him have my own little statue) as well as Japanese culture in general. I don’t know where his interest sprang from, but I try to encourage it by providing him with books and artwork whenever possible. I think he would love this book, and I would love to share it with him. Thanks so much for the chance to win a copy. (I hope we are lucky, lucky, lucky!)

    geebee.reads AT gmail DOT com

  12. I’d seen a review of this book and thought I might buy it, so when the contest showed up on Conscious Cat I thought it was a sign! I have a number of maneki nekos, including one brought back from Japan just one day before the quake and tsunami.

    However. after reading some of the entries above, I think it should go to someone more deserving. You have a lot from which to choose! Good luck to everyone.

  13. Reading about cat behavior works on my imagination, pictureing my cats doing the same things. If I win this book, I’ll give it to Kathy Mangan so that she can donate it to Schenk School. (see her explanation above)

  14. In 2006, an artist painted my dear Sneakers as a Maneki Neko, and he had good fortune for two years as he battled pancreatitis, IBD and an inflamed liver. He was down to 5.25 pounds in early 2006 and got up to 9.75 pounds a year later. (I was told that a wasting cat never comes back. Sneakers and I proved the vet wrong!) I have total respect for the Maneki Neko spirit.

  15. I would donate it to a classroom of 2nd and 3rd Graders at Schenck Schools in Madison. I have been supporting them with donations for four years of stuffed animals, toys, and trinkets to motivate developmentally disabled kids mainstreamed, english as a second language kids and regular kids!! Last year I was able to meet with the kids and put on a half hour class to teach the kids how to understand cats. They loved it. I also brought along two books for them to read and they were a hit. So I am sure the kids in this years class would love the books!!! Thanks, Kathy

  16. It sounds like a great attention-getting book for children. My great nieces and nephews will love it and the ones who can read will get pleasure from reading to their younger siblings.

  17. I would love to win this book, since I adore cats. I believe all cats are a little piece of heaven on earth. They bring us unconditional love. I have a kitty who means the world to me.

  18. Buddhism and cats are a particularly appealing match for me. Good to have they ‘presented’ to children.

  19. Oh, my, I think I need to study the art, writing and design of this book in addition to simply enjoying the story and the pleasure of the lessons of the Buddha.

  20. I would like to win this beautiful book because:
    1. I have a cat named Tama after this legendary cat.
    2. I am of Japanese heritage.
    3. I collect Maneki Nekos.
    4. Needless to say I LOVE cats!

  21. I am a Buddhist and cat rescuer. I have 10 cats just now and feed several outdoor kitties. People often berate me because I would rather see the cats well fed than worry about myself. A Tibetan Buddhist teacher once told the story of a student who was presented with an opportunity to rescue a dog. He refused, so another and yet another dog appeared and yet he never got the message.

  22. 🙂 I would love to win this book, because of the wisdom and innocence of it 🙂 I love ilustrations as well, hehehe I have a lot of “Lucky cats” around my house…but didnt know there was a story behind it 😀

  23. I want to win this book because I love cats above all animals we have been blessed with here on earth =^..^=

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