A scraggly feline stray finds himself in the right place at the right time in this picture book by Biedrzycki (Groundhog's Runaway Shadow). He needs a steady meal source, and a sumo training quarters needs a mouse catcher--one of the star wrestlers, Kuma, is terrified of mice. When Kitty adopts the sumo eating regimen ("Each meal is a feast. Twice a day sumo wrestlers eat a big stew called chankonabe. It's made with everything I love") without the concomitant discipline (the mice "were all over the kitchen. And they were laughing at me"), Kitty is sent outside, "humbled." Kuma becomes a mentor ("The cat that does not cry catches the mouse"), and Kitty inspires Kuma to triumph against the wrestler's toughest opponent. Whether or not yoga and Zen gardens would be part of a traditional Japanese sumo wrestler's training, pencil and watercolor vignettes offer solid visual pacing, and the thoroughly contemporary pictures weave in nods to Japanese art traditions. Another nice touch: rather than using a glossary to define the text's sumo-related Japanese words, Biedrzycki defines them in discrete asides throughout; it feels intimate and personal, like having a simultaneous translator whispering in the reader's ear. Ages 3-7. (Oct.)Copyright 2019 Publishers Weekly, LLC Used with permission.
K-Gr 3--A story of failure, persistence, and redemption. It is narrated by a stray kitty who has been accepted as a mouse catcher in a sumo wrestlers' heya (training camp) and offers parallel stories that illustrate the saying "fall down seven times; get up eight." Facing repeated failure, both the cat and the wrestler employ traditional sumo moves and philosophy (which readers learn about throughout) to vanquish their opponents; bold mice for the cat and the champion rikishi for the wrestler. Biedrzycki's gorgeous digital artwork evokes a mashup of traditional Japanese illustration and popular animation. Full bleed spreads depicting the heya and its inhabitants alternate with sequential panels of the action. Definitions for Japanese terms are provided out of the line of sight of the narrative. There may be some dissonance between the intended audience and readers who will be able to sit still for the book; the narrative is deceptively simple, as the spare prose goes beyond the length of an average picture book. VERDICT An expository tribute to the sumo wrestling culture, an additional purchase for most libraries.--Lisa Lehmuller, Paul Cuffee Maritime Charter School, ProvidenceCopyright 2019 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.