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The Chinese Siamese Cat (1994)

by Amy Tan

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: Sagwa the Chinese Siamese Cat

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316581,422 (4.17)1
Ming Miao tells her kittens about the antics of one of their ancestors, Sagwa of China, that produced the unusual markings they have had for thousands of years.

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Of course I'm sure this is an original tale, and not really history, but it's charming nonetheless. Fans of the art by [a:Jan Brett|16325|Jan Brett|https://d.gr-assets.com/authors/1325711282p2/16325.jpg] would like these pictures. ( )
  Cheryl_in_CC_NV | Jun 6, 2016 |
Why do Siamese cats have dark ears, paws, and tails? Sagwa is a pearly-white Chinese kitten who lives with her parents, Baba and Mama Miao, and her two siblings, Dongwa and Sheegwa, in the House of the Foolish Magistrate, who is in charge of issuing rules for all the people and animals in his province and makes a lot of silly proclamations. One day the Foolish Magistrate writes a decree that no one can sing until the sun goes down. He doesn’t see Sagwa perched up high on a shelf. After he leaves, Sagwa decides to do something about it, so she jumps down, lands in the inkpot, and gets ink on her ears, paws, and tail, but she also blots out the word “not” on the paper. When it is read, it will say, “People must sing until the sun goes down.” But what will the Foolish Magistrate do to Sagwa and her family when he finds out what has happened?
When our boys were young, they occasionally watched the animated PBS series Sagwa. We even used some of the early reading books taken from the television show, which are credited to George Daugherty who produced it. One day while watching a segment with our younger son Jeremy, I noticed that it was based on characters taken from a children’s book by Amy Tan, whose name I recognized but had not read any of her books. Tan is well known for her adult novels, such as The Joy Luck Club, The Kitchen God’s Wife, The Hundred Secret Senses, and The Bonesetter’s Daughter. I like the story of Sagwa because, in addition to being a fun folk-like tale for youngsters, it exemplifies and encourages bravery in the face of injustice. Also, we are “cat people,” so it has a special interest for us. Originally published as The Chinese Siamese Cat, some editions are called Sagwa, the Chinese Siamese Cat, most likely due to the popularity of the animated show. ( )
  Homeschoolbookreview | May 1, 2012 |
"Before you go out into the world," Ming Miao told her five kittens, "you must know the true story of your ancestors...."

And so begins the children's story about Sagwa, a kitten that gets into trouble and teaches a valuable lesson. The story is set during the 1900 Qing Dynasty, and Amy Tan reveals a quirky tale about a family of cats that work for the Chinese Magistrate and change the laws of the land with a swish of a tail. Wonderful for children 6+, resonating themes include familial honor and loyalty. The book's popularity inspired an animated television series on PBS Kids that is both educational and entertaining: http://pbskids.org/sagwa/.
  Brianna82 | Jun 11, 2010 |
Group Y
  gilsbooks | May 18, 2011 |
From School Library Journal
Kindergarten-Grade 3-A Siamese cat tells her children about their "great ancestor, Sagwa of China." That feline started off as a mischievous, pearl-white kitten who lived with her parents in the house of a greedy, autocratic magistrate. Her penchant for trouble lands her in a pot of ink, which stains her paws, nose, ears, and tail. The accident starts a chain of events that leads to the magistrate's tearful reformation, as well as to generations of cats that look Siamese but are actually Chinese. The artwork is a pastiche of images drawn from different sources. Many borders reproduce ancient Chinese textile patterns. While some of the human figures seem to have stepped from poster art done in the style of socialist realism, most resemble contemporary paintings from mass-produced Chinese New Year calendars. Librarians with long memories might recognize Kurt Wiese's exaggerated caricatures in the features of the magistrate and his Reader of Rules. Human and feline emotions are overdrawn and cliched, and the tightly controlled, prolix compositions employ a cacophony of colors. With its lengthy, precious text and derivative art, this whimsical look at Imperial China falls far short of the standards set by innovative artists working within the Chinese tradition, notably Nancy Ekholm Burkert, Meilo So, and Ed Young. Chinese or Siamese, this cat is strictly a commercial product and hardly worth considering.
Margaret A. Chang, North Adams State College, MA ( )
  olered | Aug 21, 2007 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Amy Tanprimary authorall editionscalculated
Schields, GretchenIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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"Before you go out into the world," Ming Miao told her five kittens, "you must know the true story of your ancestors...."
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This book is known as both "The Chinese Siamese Cat" and "Sagwa, the Chinese Siamese Cat". They are the same work.
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Ming Miao tells her kittens about the antics of one of their ancestors, Sagwa of China, that produced the unusual markings they have had for thousands of years.

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