Friday, October 26, 2007

Haiku Books Annotated

plethora of poems
a list of good haiku books
read them with a friend

I really do love haiku books. I have mentioned this in a previous post, and I know that you have seen many of my haiku published on this blog for the very first time. Today I give you an annotated version of my favorite haiku books. Some I have reviewed before, but I thought it might be nice to have a list of all of the books (and short descriptions) all in one place.

Translated by Sylvia Cassedy and Kunihiro Suetake
Illustrated by Molly Bang
HarperCollins, 1992
Out of print

This book had previously been published in the 1960s but was rereleased with Molly Bang’s collage illustrations. The illustrations really make this book unique. The book actually opens up vertically—you have to turn it on its side. The poems are a collection of Japanese haiku that have been translated into English. They are all written along the top of the page in one long line, but the vertical illustrations made up of all kinds of items like material, cookies, buttons, rice, wire, and more really make this a “Bang” up book.

Illustrated Tim Bowers
Simon and Schuster, 2007

I did a review of this book here. This book is a collection of haiku about a family who gets a dog and their adjustment to each other. Each page contains a different haiku, but they are linked to tell the story.
by Patricia Donegan
Tuttle Publishing, 2003

This book is part of “Asian Arts and Crafts for Kids” series. This is a step-by-step writer’s guide to writing haiku geared toward kids. It gives a short history of haiku, and then guides kids through all of the key elements in a haiku (form, seasonal word, here and now, etc). There are dozens of examples of haiku throughout the book. It also guides young writers through five projects: writing a haiku, seasonal haiku, haibun, haiga, and renga. There is a glossary, a resource guide with Internet links, and a bibliography. This would make a great book for a serious young writer/poet, but it is a very useful haiku resource for teachers too.
Illustrated by Kazuko G. Stone
Simon and Schuster, 1998

I love picture book biographies, and this is a great biography of Issa, a traditional Japanese haiku poet who lived in the late 1700s-early 1800s. The text is biographical with translated haikus by Issa interspersed throughout. Amazingly, the haiku fit with the text well. The back of the book includes an author’s note, information about translation, and information about haiku.

Shadow Play: Night Haiku
Illustrated by Jeffrey Greene
Simon and Schuster, 1994.

This book is a collection of linked haiku that tell a story (like Dogku). A collection of haiku all about night.
Haiku by Issa
Illustrated by G. Brian Karas
Scholastic, 2007

I love G. Brian Karas and I love haiku books, so this was a must buy for me. Issa is a Japanese poet well known for his haiku. I did a review of this book here. Haiku translated from Japanese are arranged by season in this book.

Scholastic, 2004

One of the best haiku references I have come across. It was my bible when I was learning how to write haiku so I could teach my students how to write haiku. It also includes instructions for other types of poems as well.

Selected by Paul Janeczko
Photographs by Henri Silberman
Orchard, 2000

I use this book all of the time. I love to have students picture the haiku in their head while I read it to them, then show them the photographs that accompany them. The illustrations are fabulous black and white photos of scenes in a city. Janeczko explains in the introduction that haiku are usually nature poems, but that the city makes great subject matter for poetry too. Janeczko has collected haiku from dozens of well known poets in this collection.

Illustrated by Chris Manson
Atheneum, 1995

The illustrations done in woodcuts are very simple and with muted colors, but they illustrate the simplicity of the haiku beautifully. This collection of haiku is all written in the traditional seasonal haiku format. A good book to add to a collection to have when teaching children what traditional, seasonal haiku is all about.
Compiled by Grace Lin and Robert Mercer
Viking, 2005

This gorgeous collection of haiku is accompanied by snowflakes illustrated by various artists for Robert’s Snow (which proceeds go to Dana-Farber Cancer Institute). This is a beautiful celebration of haiku and art and is written and illustrated by many famous children’s books authors and illustrators. My only wish for this book? It is small gift book format. I would love for it to be a regular size picture book to show off the beauty even more. One of my favorite collections!

Illustrated by Ted Rand
Greenwillow, 2004

I did a review of this book here. Jack Prelutsky writes a haiku about different animals on each page. The fun thing about this book is that you can read them aloud to students (or show them poem) and have them guess what he is writing about, then show students the illustrations. They are riddle-like haiku.

Illustrated by Demi
Atheneum, 1997

This is another picture book biography of a traditional Japanese poet. This is the life of Basho, who lived and wrote haiku in Japan in the 1600s. The biographical prose is also interspersed with translated haiku (like the Issa book). The illustrations are beautifully done ink drawings on textured paper.

Least Things: Poems about Small Natures
Photographs by Jason Stemple
Boyds Mills Press, 2003

I love Jane Yolen because she is such a beautiful writer no matter what genre she writes in. This is no exception. She takes her son’s stunning photographs of things in nature and writes haiku about them. Also included is factual information about the animal in the photograph. This is a feast for the eyes and the poet’s heart.

Is your favorite haiku book missing? Please put a comment below and let me know. I’m always on the lookout for great haiku books.

The Poetry Friday roundup is at Literary Safari


How could I forget?
Little, Brown, 2006
This is a hilarious collection of haiku. It doesn't follow the traditional nature content of Japanese haiku, but it still follows the format of haiku. These are lots of fun to read aloud. A lengthier review here.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Beautiful Saris

Mama’s Saris
By Pooja Makhijani
Illustrated by Elena Gomez
Little Brown & Co., 2007

The new book area of the children’s section of the library is where you can usually find me. I found this book, Mama’s Saris, just by browsing. I love reading books about children from Asia, so this one really caught my eye.

The main character is a seven year old girl. The book is set on her 7th birthday and her mother is going through her saris to find one to wear. The mother only wears them on special occasions, unlike the grandmother, who wears them all the time. The mother and daughter talk about each sari one by one and mother shares special memories of when she wore each one. It’s a scrapbook of special events through these beautiful pieces of clothing.

The young girl begs her mother to let her wear a sari for her birthday. Mother keeps telling her no and suggests she wear her chaniya choli, a child’s traditional outfit. The little girl wants so much to be grown up and wear her mother’s sari. Finally the mother gives in and lets her try on a sari, bangles, and a bindi.

The paintings in this book are absolutely stunning. The details in the patterns of the saris are exquisite. I think the paintings themselves draw you right into the book.
This book has also been nominated for the Cybils this year.

Just One More Book Podcast about this book.

My Mother’s Sari
By Sandya Rao
Illustrated by Nina Sabnani
NorthSouth Books, 2006

This book really caught my eye because I had already read Mama’s Saris, but I knew it wasn’t the same book I had read earlier. So I checked it out. This book was first published in India before it was published internationally.

The idea is similar to Mama’s Saris, but this text is much simpler. The young girl’s connection with the mother’s saris is very endearing. The little girl is comforted by her mother’s saris. The illustrations show her wrapped up in one, like she is hiding, dancing among several saris, and playing in them.

The illustrations have simple cut outs of the child in the story reveling amongst the textured cloth, which appears to be photographs of actual saris. The little girl in the story seems to be much younger than in Mama’s Saris. She doesn’t express a desire to wear a sari, just be comforted by her mother’s saris much like a young child would be comforted by a blanket.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Yee Haw! A Rhyming Rendition

Written and illustrated by Barbara Johansen Newman
Sterling Publishing, 2007
I really love to read a book that rhymes well, and rolls right off the tongue. Tex and Sugar does that, or I should say, Barbara Johansen Newman does that.
Writing about Tex: "his songs could put smiles on fields full of cattle and make an old rattlesnake give up her rattle."
Tex and Sugar are country cats, country cowboy cats, that is. These two singing country cats don't know each other, but they both move to the big city to seek fame and fortune. Unfortunately, neither achieves fame and fortune to begin with. Tex and Sugar try hard on their own, but find themselves washing dishes and working at the theater instead of performing on the big stage.
They find one another through fate--actually through singing on the balconies of their respective big city dwellings. And as luck would have it, these cute country cats sing their way into the honky-tonk hearts of the city dwellers.
The illustrations, also by Newman, are fabulous. In fact they draw the reader right into the book with the bright colors. The illustrations are full of texts within the illustrations. Even the signs on the subway are enticing. I think my favorite illustrations are those of the city skyline. I would love to have that spread hanging in my office. In fact, Newman offers that beautiful picture as a wallpaper for your computer on her website.
Newman has mastered the story through rhyme, which I hear is VERY difficult to do. It has that sing-song quality that makes me want to get up and dance.
It has also been nominated for the Cybils.

More Donavan on the Way!

In a recent post, I reviewed Donavan's Word Jar by Monalisa DeGross, a book I use every year in my fourth grade classroom. Good news from the publishing front, according to Fuse #8, HarperCollins is releasing the next Donavan book in December 2007. It will be called Donavan's Double Trouble.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Robert's Snow

Head on over to Book Moot where she features one of my favorite teachers from Hollins--Ruth Sanderson. Her gorgeous snowflake is up for viewing too. I am so partial to Ruth's illustrations. My daughter's room has two of her illustrations framed and hanging on her walls.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

What happens when I got into a bookstore...or the tale of the princess books

I went to Barnes and Noble today because they were doing teacher educator day and they were offering books for 25% off. And I knew that some local authors would be signing books, so I headed over with my three year old daughter in tow. She bypassed all the teacher "freebies" and headed straight for the "kids' section" as she calls it. That might really impress you, but she wasn't headed back to look at books, but rather to play with Thomas the "lead-infected" Train. She didn't even give me time to gather a few books to read while she played, so I limited her time. I did the count down--3 more minutes, 2 more minutes, 1 more minute, okay, say goodbye to Thomas.

We finally got to pick out a few books, and talk to the authors. Cece Bell was there with her Sock Monkey books. We just purchased her latest, Sock Monkey Rides Again, at the local art show. I also highly recommend her new board book, Food Friends. It's very simple, but it pairs common foods together (i.e. mashed potatoes and gravy, bacon and eggs). My three year old was "reading" it to herself after I read it to her once.

Cece was there with her husband, Tom Angleburger (aka Sam Riddleburger) of blogging and QuikPik fame. I got to meet the fellow blogger and get him to sign a copy of The Quikpick Adventure Society for me. I can't wait to read it.

But my daughter of course, wanted to find her own books. We already have all of Cece's books (which are age appropriate for her), so she found the things that were her height--Disney princess books. I know it serves me right for going to a big chain bookstore with their paid advertisement books facing out. So she picks up this princess book and INSISTS that we get it. Yuck! I say. Let's get something better--how about an Ed Emberley drawing book? How about How Many Seeds in a Pumpkin? How about...

That stupid princess book made it's way to the cash register. Thank goodness it was cheap, but I still hate it. And you might think, so why didn't you just tell your kid NO! Well, I guess I'm also from the school that at least she loves books. As a teacher, parents complain to me all of the time that their kids aren't reading what they'd like to see them read. My response is always, "It's wonderful that they are READING. At least they don't refuse to read at all." I must take my own advice. We have hundreds of high-quality books in our home library. My daughter will still be exposed to the good stuff. I don't want to squelch her personal choice too much. I just need to have an arsenal of decent princess books that don't make me want to hurl. I love The Paperbag Princess by Robert Munsch and Do Princesses Really Kiss Frogs? by Carmela LaVigna Coyle. Help! I need some more STRONG girl titles for little three year olds who think they are princesses. I can't bear another Disney book!!!!

Aah! The Power of Words: Wordgatherers in Children's Books

Donavan’s Word Jar
By Monalisa DeGross
Illustrated by Cheryl Hanna
Trophy, 1998

One of my favorite stories that I read with my students every year is Donavan’s Word Jar by Monalisa deGross. Donavan collects words, but he realizes that his word jar is too full. He doesn’t know what to do. He has a collection of wonderful words like bamboozle, emporium, kaleidoscope, persnickety, and cantankerous. He asks his grandmother for help. One day he finds that people from her retirement community have taken the words out of his jar and are using them for their own purposes. I love this book because Donavan learns that words have power, and in this case, the power to help. It also is a celebration of words that sound really awesome. Kids love words that have unique ring to them, and Donavan picks out those kinds of words for his collection.
One of my favorite things about this story is that is always helped me lead the way to our own word collections. We always do a Writer’s Notebook entry called “Favorite Words too Fabulous to Forget” where students collect words from themselves and family and friends and write them down. Then we keep a running list of our favorite words. The word “snickerdoodle” makes it onto the list every year. I’ll admit, it is a cool word.
This year, I found two other books that are along the same theme. In fact, it’s uncanny how similar they are to Donavan’s Word Jar. But they each have their own unique qualities.

Max’s Words
By Kate Banks
Illustrated by Boris Kulikov
Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, 2006

Max’s Words by Kate Banks is about a boy named Max who has brothers who have collections of their own, but they won’t share with Max. He decides to collect words. His word collection is not made up of unusual words like Donavan’s though. Max is a younger character who collects common words. My favorite part of this book is the celebration that a word collector doesn’t just have separate words. Max realizes that his brother that collects coins just has a bunch of coins; his brother that collects stamps just has a bunch of stamps. Max, on the other hand, doesn’t just have words. When he puts them together, he can create a story—and the story can change depending on how you arrange the words. This is an excellent celebration of writers who love to collect words.
The Boy Who Loved Words
By Roni Schotter
Illustrated by Giselle Potter
Schwartz & Wade, 2006.

My most recent find is The Boy Who Loved Words by Roni Schotter. This book would even appeal to the older audience because of the use of so many large vocabulary words that might intrigue older readers. Selig, the main character, loves to collect words. In fact, others think he is an “oddball” because of it. One night he dreams of a genie who tells him that his word collection needs to have a purpose. He too, learns to share his words and even spreads them out in a word tree, which is stumbled upon by a poet who needed just the right word. The author suggests that Selig might have legendary power. If you are looking for just the right word and you find it, it might be Selig offering it to you.
This books also includes a glossary of all of the large words and their definitions used throughout the story. And there are lots of big, unusual words in the story. I must confess, I had to look a few of them up myself.
I would recommend all three books. All three of them do a wonderful job of acknowledging the power and the breadth of words in our language.
Donavan’s Word Jar is a short chapter book. Max’s Words is a picture book that is simple enough to be enjoyed by children as young as four, but appreciated by a much older audience as well. The Boy Who Loved Words is a picture books, but would appeal mainly to children 8 and older.

Friday, October 5, 2007

Poetry Point of View

Dirty Laundry Pile: Poems in Different Voices
Selected by Paul Janeczko
Illustrated by Melissa Sweet
HarperCollins, 2001

When Paul Janeczko came to Hollins, he read poems from this book. I am a huge Janeczko fan, but this is one book I didn’t own of his. It is a collection of poems written by various poets. They are written from the point of view of something. That something might be animals, inanimate objects, or other. There are poems from the point of view of vaccum cleaners, crayons, mosquitoes, washing machines, turtles, and many more. I love sharing these poems with my students so that they can start thinking through the eyes of something other than themselves. In the spirit of the book, I wrote my own poem from the point of view of a picture hanging on the wall.

Picture, Picture on the Wall
By Marcie Flinchum Atkins

I hang out for a living,
I’m a picture on the wall
I always have pain in my neck,
Strangers stare at me in the hall.

Do they see the beauty I behold
An image of the baby, Mother in her veil,
The Daddy in his tux,
I know them all so well.

For they have been spread upon this wall,
I show them off with pride,
And hold myself upright
Not tip from side to side.

It’s a thankless job, I must say
To sit up straight and tall
To show off the family moments
That dwell among these halls.

Poetry Friday roundup is at Whimsy Books

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Biographical Poetry

The Poet Slave of Cuba: A Biography of Juan Francisco Manzano
By Margarita Engle
Art by Sean Qualls
Henry Holt, 2006

This biography in verse is a story of a Cuban slave who loved poetry so much, he suffered for it. Engle tells the life story of Juan Francisco Manzano from his young childhood through the day he escapes slavery. Juan Francisco Manzano was a Cuban slave in the early 1800s. His mother was also a slave, but was given her freedom when she married. Juan had to live with the owner, who mistreated him, and was forbidden to see his mother for years. Juan managed to love words, write words, and had people sneaking him books. Manzano’s story is beautifully told through verse. Engle says she knew Manzano’s story HAD to be told in verse since it was his lifeblood. His story is told through poems in different voices including his own voice and those of his mother, his stepfather, the mistress, the master, and their son. Engle’s poetry is beautiful and really makes the slave poet’s life vivid, sad, and hopeful.
Engle includes a bibliography, a historical note, and translations of some of Manzano’s poems.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Making Money--Pre-Teen Style

Lawn Boy
By Gary Paulsen
Random House, 2007

I read this book early on a Sunday morning before the sun even came up. It was a fun, easy read. I tried and tried to find the main character’s name, but I don’t think it is ever mentioned. The twelve year old narrator gets a used lawnmower from his grandmother. It once belonged to his late grandfather. He doesn’t know how to mow a lawn. In fact, his lawn never needs mowing because it’s always dead. One day he starts mowing it just to test out the mower. He is approached by a neighbor who needs his lawn mowed. He soon has more lawns than he can manage. Then a 70’s-dressing stock-broker wants him to mow his lawn, and instead of paying him cash, he invests the money for him, and essentially becomes the manager of his lawn mowing “company.” He helps him hire employees, whose legal working status might be questionable. But the company grows and grows and grows. So does his stock portfolio. His $40 that he received from mowing the stock broker’s lawn makes returns in the thousands.
Within two months time, this kid, who doesn’t have money to buy an inner tube for a flat bike tire, is rich to the tune of close to $500,000. Unbelievable? You bet. Show me where I can invest $40 and be $400,000 richer in the matter of 2 months. But it’s a fun book. Paulsen uses all of those hard-to-define economic terms in ways that makes good sense. Isn’t it every kid’s dream to mow lawns and get rich doing it?

Monday, October 1, 2007

Dogku Haiku For You

By Andrew Clements
Illustrated by Tim Bowers
Simon & Schuster, 2007

I am a big fan of haiku books, especially ones that appeal to kids. Every year I teach haiku in the fall, mainly because my local reading association has a kids’ haiku contest. I always have some kids that enter in the contest. I purchased this story told in haiku this year so that I could use it in my 4th grade classroom.

Many of my collections of haiku are collections of haiku. That is, they stand alone and are not related to the other haiku in the book, except through a common theme. This book by Andrew Clements tells the story of a dog that a family adopts through haiku. Each haiku tells a piece of the story. Most of these haiku are very simple, geared for a younger audience, unlike some of my haiku collections, which have more profound messages.

I love this book! I like haiku that are connected in some one and that tell a story. This was no easy feat to write, I’m sure. Plus, I think it would be a great way for younger students to really get a kick out of haiku.

My favorite haiku from the book:

Scratch, sniff, eat, yawn, nap.
Dreams of rabbits and running.
Could life be sweeter?

Andrew Clements includes two other haiku and an explanation of what haiku is in his author's note at the back.

My haiku that describes this book:

Dog wants family
Haiku extravaganza
Clements hits homerun

Nominate your favorite books of 2007 now!

I am thrilled to be a part of the Cybils this year. I am on the fiction picture book panel. I will be reading a LOT of picture books in the next few months.
Nominations began today. Go to the Cybils website and nominate one book for each category. It has to be a book that was published in 2007.
The categories are:
Nominations will close on Nov. 21. So scoot on over to the Cybils website and nominate away.
Why the Cybils, you might ask? Head over to Big A little a for the press release that explains it.