Seeing into Tomorrow by Richard Wright, illustrated by Nina Crews (9781512498622)
Nina Crews has selected some of Richard Wright’s haiku about his childhood and created an inviting picture book out of them. The haiku focus on the seasons, the outdoors and universal childhood experiences. There are winding dirt roads, yellow kites, blue skies, rainy days, trees and insects. Each haiku is a small window into simple childhood joys and moments that are more meaningful than one might think. They invite us all to slow down, dream a bit and enjoy the nature around us.
Crews adds modern zing to these poems with her photography. Using a series of photographs that fit together into a whole, they are layered and fascinating. African-American children are forefront in the images that then branch and reach across the page, paving the pages with hope and wonder.
A dynamic look at one of the top African-American poets of the 21st century, this book of poetry is a celebration. Appropriate for ages 6-9.
Reviewed from e-galley provided by Edelweiss and Millbrook Press.
Guess Who, Haiku by Deanna Caswell, illustrated by Bob Shea (InfoSoup)
Haiku poetry is turned into a guessing game in this delightful picture book. One animal after another is described in haiku format and then the reader is asked to guess what animal it is. The answer is revealed with a turn of the page. This simple idea is engaging for youngsters learning about poetry and also works as a more basic picture book for younger listeners. It is that ease of use that makes this book so engaging for various age levels.
Caswell’s haiku are exceptional in the way they offer clues that children can understand and yet conform to the strict haiku format rules. They also read as haiku and real poems, each one working as a stand-alone haiku as well as a clue in the game of the book. This takes real skill, particularly since it looks so very effortless on the page.
Shea’s illustrations are loud, dynamic and funny. From the almost round bumblebee and the grinning flower to the googly-eyed frog , they are simple and also capture the essence of the animal they are depicting. They are filled with energy and life, making the book all the more fun.
This is the ideal book to introduce children to haiku since it makes the experience completely engaging and game-like. Appropriate for ages 3-7.
Reviewed from copy received from Abrams.
Hi, Koo!: A Year of Seasons by Jon J. Muth
Join Koo, a panda, on an exploration of the seasons through haiku poems. The book begins with fall and haikus about fall leaves, wind, and rain. Winter comes next with poetry about snow and ice. Spring is bridged into with a glimpse of crocuses and then grass, insects, and birds. Summer arrives with fireflies, flowers and water. In 26 poems, this is a lovely celebration of the small things that make each season special.
Muth has created haikus that are beautifully written. They capture small moments in time and also point to the larger importance of these moments. They continue Muth’s Buddhist focus in his picture books, offering children a way to see these times of mindfulness as important and worthy of exploration.
Muth’s watercolor illustrations have a wonderful spirit to them. The palette changes colors as the seasons change with spring bouncing in green especially after the white cold of winter. He captures the seasons so well that your attitude changes with each season as well.
A stellar collection of haiku, this book will invite young readers to see nature and seasons in a fresh new way. Appropriate for ages 5-9.
Reviewed from copy received from Scholastic.
I Haiku You by Betsy Snyder
This diminutive book is filled with equally small haiku poetry. Each poem is a celebration of either love for someone else or a warm moment in time. There are poems about warm soup, purple popsicles and lemonade. Each one is a tiny look into a universal and noteworthy moment. Turning from one page to the next, the book manages to avoid being overly sweet through its humor and the sense of joy that pervades it. In other words, these are far more organic and natural poems than Hallmark ever manages to create. Instead these are wonderful little gifts of haiku that are invitations to celebrate the small moments of life that we share with one another.
Snyder has created illustrations that are equally warm and special. Done on cream paper, the illustrations have pops of purples, oranges, reds and yellows but still have a softness. The result is a book that is cheery and warm.
A perfect Valentine’s Day gift, this book should also be useful as an introduction to the haiku format. Or one could just curl up at bedtime and share some short and lovely poetry. What better way to create beautiful dreams? Appropriate for ages 4-7.
Reviewed from copy received from Random House.
Won Ton: A Cat Tale Told in Haiku by Lee Wardlaw, illustrated by Eugene Yelchin
This picture book is told in a series of haiku poems. The poems form the only text in the book, charmingly telling the tale of Won Ton, a cat saved from the animal shelter by a boy and his family. Once rescued, Won Ton demonstrates that he is pure cat. His aloof yet cozy manner is captured to perfection here in the poems. The book is in turns touching, beautiful, wistful and very funny.
Wardlaw’s haiku read as if they were effortlessly written. In a few words and syllables, he captures the life of a cat and the humor of life. It is a book that celebrates poetry, making it approachable and understandable for children. At the same time, he speaks to the power and connection in animal adoption.
Yelchin has illustrated the book with a playful flair. The graphite and gouache illustrations are bright and large, making them well suited to sharing with a group. Anyone with a cat in their lives will recognize the poses, the reactions and the attitude that Won Ton displays.
A perfect book to share in a poetry unit, this book is appropriate for ages 5-8.
Reviewed from copy received from Henry Holt and Company.
Also reviewed by Fuse #8 and Wild Geese Guides.