by David Biedrzycki (Author) David Biedrzycki (Illustrator)

Reading Level: K − 1st Grade
Watch out, mice! This cat is a sumo champion! A stray kitty gets a job in a sumo stable, chasing mice in exchange for food. But when eating like a sumo wrestler slows our feline hero down, he realizes he must train like a wrestler, too. Through hard work and perseverance--and with a little help from a big buddy--SumoKitty is born! A funny and heartwarming story inspired by the Japanese saying "Fall down seven times, stand up eight."

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Publishers Weekly

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.

School Library Journal

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, Providence

Copyright 2019 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

Review quotes

David Biedrzycki
David Biedrzycki is the author and illustrator of the Breaking News series, the Ace Lacewing, Bug Detective series, and the Me and My Dragon series. He has been creating illustrations for book publishers, advertising agencies, magazines, and design firms since 1980. His art has graced the cover of KidSoft magazine, New England Aquarium billboards and children's software packaging, such as The Amazon Trail and Odell Down Under. David has collaborated with children's author Jerry Pallotta on The Beetle Alphabet Book, The Boat Alphabet Book, and The Freshwater Alphabet Book. He grew up in Pennsylvania and now lives in Massachusetts with his wife and three children.
Lexile Measure
Guided Reading Level
Charlesbridge Publishing
Publication date
August 20, 2019
BISAC categories
JUV002050 - Juvenile Fiction | Animals | Cats
JUV030020 - Juvenile Fiction | People & Places | Asia
JUV032070 - Juvenile Fiction | Sports & Recreation | Martial Arts
Library of Congress categories
Perseverance (Ethics)

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