Whoo-Ku Haiku by Maria Gianferrari, illustrated by Jonathan Voss (9780399548420)
The story of a great horned owl family is told in dramatic fashion using only haiku poems in this picture book. A pair of great horned owls find a squirrel’s nest and claim it as their home. The mother bird lays three eggs in the nest, losing one when the crows attack her. Now there are two eggs left to guard and keep warm. Soon two owlets emerge from their eggs, eating the prey that Mama and Papa bring to them. The woods has lots of dangers like hunting hawks and foxes waiting for an owlet to fall. Mama is there to protect them though, until it is time for them to take wing and find a home of their own.
Through her series of haiku poems, Gianferrari creates moments that build on one another into a full story of the first months of egg laying and owlets growing up. Focusing on the strength and power of the most commons owls in North America, along with their exceptional parenting skills, the book also reveals the dangers they face despite their size.
Voss’ illustrations are a gorgeous match to the beauty of the poetry. Illustrated in sepia ink and watercolor, with digital color added, these illustrations captures the various moments with skill and drama. The quiet moments are just as powerful as the action ones, filled with dappled forest light and the incredible creatures.
A marvelous book of nature poetry for children. Appropriate for ages 6-9.
Reviewed from e-galley provided by G. P. Putnam’s Sons.
Rain by Anders Holmer (9780802855077)
Haiku tells the story of different types of rain in this poetry picture book. The haiku are all about nature, some about rain directly and others about other things like falling newspapers or cascading petals. The poems form a series of vignettes that show different parts of the world and various environments from the arctic to the Himalayas to the desert. They are bound together with the rhythms of the poems and the journey together to explore rain and our world.
The haiku poems range from solemn to merry, some carrying serious weight and others lighter. They mirror the weather, some with lightning and dark clouds while others fill with pink petals and friendship. The illustrations themselves are large and have the feel of traditional tales mixed with a modern edge. They show different parts of the world and take readers on a fascinating journey as rain descends on each page and yet each type of rain is different from the others.
A skilled book of haiku that explores our wide world and the nature we find there. Appropriate for ages 6-9.
Reviewed from library copy.
The Horse’s Haiku by Michael J. Rosen, illustrated by Stan Fellows (9780763689162)
This book of haiku poetry focuses solely on horses and their daily lives. Starting with their time in the field as young foals, the poems include dust baths, rainwater pools, and dappled shade. Moving into the barn, readers get to see humans interacting with horses, feeding them apples, and going on a ride together. The next chapter of poems has an even greater focus on riding, galloping and jumping.
The poems capture the beauty and grace of horses, the unique relationships they have with the people who care for them, and the joy of running fast. Each haiku is a separate moment in time, showing the importance of slowing down, of seeing each moment as unique and in sharing them to create a universal joy of horses.
The illustrations are done in watercolor that dapples the page, creating sunlight and shadow, hoofprints and breezes in the grass. They have a wonderful sense of freedom about them that mirrors the celebratory tone of the haiku, inviting readers to feel movement on the page.
A stellar book of focused haiku. Appropriate for ages 6-9. (Reviewed from library copy.)
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.