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Showing posts with label The Cat From Hunger Mountain. Show all posts
Showing posts with label The Cat From Hunger Mountain. Show all posts

2.21.2017

The Cat From Hunger Mountain (2016)

Written and Illustrated by Ed Young

Paper collage

Philomel Books

This book is dedicated to 'the strange virtue in deprivation, an unwanted and the least understood gateway to humanity and life's riches,' which is not the most straightforward of dedications, but Ed Young does not make orthodox picture books.

There is a simple lesson in this story: the importance of not wasting food, but it is wrapped up in so much beauty and mysticism, that it seems to have come directly from some ancient Buddhist text... albeit one with a talking cat.

Young has again used paper collage as his medium, and to great effect. The snowy landscapes are especially vivid, and the cut paper is used well to show the cold breath coming from the mouth of his wandering Lord Cat. A few pages later, and the cut-paper is now a beige, barren landscape where famine has persisted for several years... even the long, red paper strip to signify blood coming from the beak of a hunter bird had a special vibrancy to it. I don't often think of paper-collage being so detailed and precise. Young fits it all in perfectly. I could feel the movement from one land to the next, the proportioning of the characters, the distance between them.
Hunters gifted him with rare meats...
Lord Cat is the main character who lives at the top of a tall pagoda atop Hunger Mountain in extreme opulence, while all around him his subjects wallow in hunger and misery. He only ever eats half the bowl of rice given to him each day, and demands the rest be taken away. It almost seems like its his way of rubbing his wealth into the noses of his many servants. All the meanwhile he shouts, "There is more rice to harvest!"

"Are you blind? Can't you see the bowl is half-empty?"
But all good things must eventually come to an end. Famine eventually overtakes his kingdom, reducing all to waster. For the first time, Lord Cat must leave Hunger Mountain, and go wandering through the land, conversing with beggars and becoming a beggar himself. Like the Buddha, he discovers the true meaning of contentment and happiness.

The famine persisted a second year.
 To this day, if you enter this temple in the foothills of Hunger Mountain, you'll find an urn in the shape of a cat. From it you can take out a tab with an inscription that reads, Only I know what's enough."


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