Elizabeth Coatsworth & Lynd Ward (illustrator), “The Cat Who Went to Heaven,” NY: Macmillan, 1931

A Newbery Medal winner for 1931.  Coatsworth teamed up with the amazing Lynd Ward to tell a Buddhist tale about a painter, his housekeeper, and the calico cat she brings home instead of dinner. Cat wins over skeptical painter who names her Good Fortune, and so she turns out to be. When painting his big commission for the monastery, depicting all the animals approaching the Buddha for enlightenment, he paints the cat at the end of the procession in spite of the belief (??) that cats were too proud to acknowledge the Buddha (that I could believe!) and so are forbidden to enter heaven. Miracles ensue, of course. The narrative structure mixing folk wisdom with beast fable reminds me of Kipling, but no undercurrent of violent menace. If you can decipher the author’s dedication after “To Barbara,” please Comment with your best guess.

Author: Professor Arnold Sanders, Emeritus Professor of English (2015) – Goucher College.

*Note: The materials below are provided by Goucher Special Collection & Archives.