Tuesday, May 14, 2013
On Cat Mountain
On Cat Mountain by Francoise Richard, Illus. by Anne Buguet, 1994.
Sho is a servant in the house of a haughty, nasty woman, but luckily she has one friend to talk to: her black cat, Secret. Unfortunately, the uncaring mistress discovers the kitty, and throws it out of her house. When a fortune teller comes to town, Sho learns that she will find her Secret on the dangerous Cat Mountain, from which no one has ever returned. He assures her that what she's lost is more precious than anything her sour mistress has. Caring only about this promised treasure, the mistress sends her away at once. Sho reaches Cat Mountain and meets strange young women who offer her hospitality, but who she overhears talking of a terrifying possibility. Luckily, she finds herself reunited with Secret, who is now a cat-girl. She protects Sho and sends her home with a special bag that will bring her freedom. When the servant's jealous mistress learns of the results of Sho's journey, she is compelled to go to Cat Mountain herself. As we have learned by reading Japanese folk tales, or most fairy tales, it is best not to be a villain in a story, because you will certainly be punished, and this wicked old woman is no exception.
Anne Buguet's illustrations are lovely and intriguing. Sho's mistress is drawn with a sneer on her face and a haughty erect carriage. The ladies, both human and feline, have lustrous black hair and flowing robes. And the formidable wildcats that greet the unkind mistress are solid, slinky and well blessed with fangs and claws!