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Formats
Paperback Book Details
  • 04/2015
  • 9780981655017 0981655017
  • 76 pages
  • $9.99
Lauri Bortz
Author
Kung Fu Kitty: Laying Down the Law
Lauri Bortz, author

Children/Young Adult; General Fiction (including literary and historical); (Market)

In this sequel to her previous book, the critically acclaimed Kung Fu Kitty, Ms. Bortz completes a poignant yet playful retelling of the Biblical story of Exodus, set in ancient China and featuring animal characters. Kung Fu Kitty: Laying Down the Law begins in Henan Province, the birthplace of Kung Fu and the cradle of Chinese civilization, and continues with madcap adventures in outer space. Like its predecessor, this book is family friendly, suitable for readers of all ages. It is charmingly illustrated in the magic realist style with drawings by Michael Gentile, former art director of New York Press and other publications.
Reviews
Children's Bookwatch: May 2015

Set in ancient China, featuring animal characters. "Kung Fu Kitty: Laying Down the Law" begins in Henan Province, the birthplace of Kung Fu and the cradle of Chinese civilization, and continues with madcap adventures in outer space. Like its predecessor, this book is family friendly, suitable for readers of all ages. It is beautifully illustrated with detailed pen and ink drawings by Michael Gentile, former art director of New York Press and other publications. While author Lauri Bortz is best known for her award-winning plays, she has been creating children's literature for decades. Ms. Bortz, who worked as a nanny for many years, received multiple requests from her charges and their parents for stories committed to paper, a real book. With the Kung Fu Kitty saga, she has finally met these demands. : A quick and entertaining read, "Kung Fu Kitty: Laying Down The Law" is an outstanding novella that can be confidently recommended for young readers -- and older reader's who appreciate a finely honed original story that will linger in the mind and memory long after it has been finished and set back upon the shelf.

Finding Wonderland

Honestly? I did not see this one coming.

Some of us in the kidlitosphere who have grown up in a faith have frequently bemoaned the scarcity of accurately, positively and creatively depicted faith in children's fiction. (Please note I said "faith" and not "Christianity.") I had just had a conversation with a fellow blogger about this very thing when I was approached by a small press to review their book. For some reason, I thought this was a poetic book, but soon discovered it's not quite poetry, nor, despite the artwork, is it quite a graphic novel. It's a cross between a parable and a history, an earnestly told folk tale and a really, really long pun. In the weird tradition of Jonathan Swift, Lewis Carroll and Frank L. Baum, we have... The Exodus. With Cats. It's ...amazing, actually.

The Cat Code of Conduct

A cat must be loyal to family
And do his best to keep folk free
A cat my kill spiders, mice and rats
But never, ever other cats
A cat shouldn't steal, curse or lie
Or poke his neighbor in the eye
A cat should take care not to bite
The hand that feeds, and not to fight
To do good deeds with all his might
And champion what's fair and right
Above all else, a cat must see
It's best to live in harmony
With creatures both alike and not
In form, in fact, in heart, in thought.

Summary: Wu Zhua - whose name means Five Claw - saved her people from the Monkey Dynasty, where they had been slaves for so long. But, what happens after freedom? Mostly a lot of complaining, aimlessness, and confusion. Kittens were growing up without any knowledge of Kung Fu, or the years in service to the monkeys, and without any gratitude or understanding of what their ancestors had gone through - or of what the Water God Zhi Shui Zhi Shen had done for them. Now President of Catland, Wu Zhua worries that the newly formed society she longed for is hollow and doomed to fail.

Every good leader takes help from all sources. For Wu Zhua, this involved a pilgrimage to the Milky Way where The Water God showed her that help was available from a tribe of cats who had freed themselves long before the Catlanders, and had come up with the Cat Code of Conduct. Convinced that these cats were a vital part of her people's history and could save their future, Wu Zhua returns to Catland to prepare her kin the eventual reunion between the Wavians and the Catlanders, bringing back a silk scroll with the Wavian cats' Code written down. Sadly, their President returns to find Catland in disarray. Her people had changed the society she had formed, done away with the reminders of the past she had left them, and come up with their own world. Wu Zhua, stung by their neglect, decides that she, too, can give up on her people. But the Water God has other plans, which include a giant carp, a Phoenix, and some lovely jade eggs...

Peaks: This is one of the quirkiest, most original and fresh retellings of the Exodus I've ever read. Using Chinese-style mythology, with its myriad gods and sometimes obscure logic, the story reveals new insights to an old story. It's unexpected, on a number of levels, occasionally funny, and largely sticks to the original Biblical tale in Exodus... with the brilliant addition of cats.

Valleys: In such a short, short book (only 72 pages) there is SO MUCH story that it's information-saturated and super-packed. Readers have to pay attention, or they can be overwhelmed and overloaded - or irretrievably lost. For me, the book could have used a bit more of a linear plot and reshuffling to organize bits of the story which, while interesting or punny, didn't necessarily lend themselves to a clear narrative.

Conclusion: For readers who like history, mythology, and the odd pun, this short and creative retelling of the Exodus is packed full of quirk and character, and will produce an enjoyable, if slightly surreal, treat over coffee.

I received my copy of this book courtesy of Abaton Book Company. You can find KUNG FU KITTY, Laying Down the Law by Lauri Bortz at an online e-tailer, or at a real life, independent bookstore near you

By Tanita Davis

Tablet

I Can Haz Exodus?

An impressively complex retelling of the biblical story—with cats

By Stephanie Butnick|

April 1, 2015 9:54 AM

A cat must be loyal to family
And do his best to keep folk free

A cat may kill spiders, mice and rats
But never, ever other cats

A cat shouldn’t steal, curse or lie
Or poke his neighbor in the eye

That’s from the Cat Code of Conduct, a set of laws newly independent cats must follow in order to live peacefully and productively in Lauri Bortz’s new novella, Kung Fu Kitty: Laying Down the Law. It tells the story of what happens after “Let my people go”—though in this case the people are cats, living in China, who have recently been freed from enslavement in Monkey Kingdom. (Their emancipation from Monkey Kingdom was covered in the first book of the series, Kung Fu Kitty.)

It’s a bizarre, complex story, which follows Wu Zhua, the leader of Catland who has just freed his people from bondage, as he navigates the tricky reality of independence. For cats. The story is accompanied by intricate illustrations by Michael Gentile, which depict the feline cast of character in various emotional states (plus their frightening former monkey overlords).

Once you get the hang of who’s who and what’s going on, the story lines up nicely with the second half of Exodus. Here’s Wu Zhua returning to Catland after having received the Cat Code of Conduct, the new laws of Catland, on a magic silk scroll from the Water God, who lives atop Mount Taishi, one of China’s highest mountains. Sound familiar-ish? (There’s also a pivotal visit to the Wuvians, a cat population living in outer space who have perfected the art of living by the ‘CCC,’ but I won’t confuse you too much here.)

Wu Zhua marched into town self-assuredly, CCC firmly clutched in her teeth. Upon arrival at the site of Ziang Pu [a memorial commemorating the cats’ recent liberation from Monkey Kingdom], her knees buckled as the scroll dropped from her slackened jaw. The magnificent cattail cluster by Diao Ke Jia was no more. In its place stood another iron sculpture, cast to resemble—could it be? she wondered, blinking once and yet again. Why, yes: it was a colossal wheel of cheese.

Angry, Wu Zhua ends up (you guessed it) hurling the scroll into a campfire held that night at the massive cheese sculpture by the gluttonous residents of Catland.

Things get pretty dark for Catland after that, thanks to a vengeful god and a population of cats, their leader included, who need to learn a series of lessons. At the end of the story, Wu Zhua leaves the now-unified Catland for a planet in outer space after declaring, “I’ve done all I am able for Catland,” and appointing a new leader for his people.

That Bortz created this alternate cat universe and aligned it so elaborately with the backdrop of Exodus is nothing short of inspired. It’s a great Passover gift for cat lovers, and would be at home on my bookshelf next to titles like I Could Pee on This, and How to Tell if Your Cat is Trying to Kill You, both presents from thoughtful friends. Plus, the messages apply to people too, not just cats. Here’s the end of the Cat Code of Conduct:

A cat should take care not to bite
The hand that feeds, and not to fight
To do good deeds with all his might
And champion what’s fair and right

Above all else, a cat must see
It’s best to live in harmony
With creatures both alike and not
In form, in fact, in heart, in thought

As my cat said, “l4;./”

Dayenu.

News
06/01/2015
Kung Fu Kitty Goes to College

Kung Fu Kitty's Mosaic roots are showing. The saga of her journey toward the Promised Land is being used in a summer course at Virginia Wesleyan College taught by Dr. Eric Michael Mazur, who has a PhD in Judaic Studies. Copies of both books, Kung Fu Kitty and Kung Fu Kitty: Laying Down the Law, are still available, but buy yours now before the academics gobble them up.

https://www.vwc.edu/bookstore/textbooks/pdfs/summer2015.pdf

Formats
Paperback Book Details
  • 04/2015
  • 9780981655017 0981655017
  • 76 pages
  • $9.99

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