Apr 30, 2017

Poetry Month Ends... But Poetry Lingers On.

Just in case you've missed the news, APRIL is NATIONAL POETRY MONTH, for all ages. So, now that April 30 has arrived, this will conclude my posts about poetry picture books. 


There's no cause for alarm as I survey the tall stack of poetry collections, patiently awaiting their turns in the spotlight. If you're new to this blog, you can read my longstanding objection to theme months here, going way back to the early weeks of this blog in 2012. In fact, the only issue I have with a stack of poetry books not yet shared is a slight worry that I could trip  over them and break something, possibly ME! There's always time in the year(s) ahead to share them here, but I'll improve the safety factor by powering through some favorite HAIKU collections before shifting gears for a few weeks to other genre. NO worries, though. Poetry will return before long.

Greenwillow Books, 2004
So, in rapid-fire succession, here are some of my favorite haiku picture books, with a sample poem from each. 

IF NOT FOR THE CAT features poetry by  Jack Prelutsky, illustrated by Ted Rand. Most are familiar with Prelutsky's tightly rhymed/metered poems, many bordering on rapid-fire raps, but these haiku offer reflections through the point of view of familiar creatures, enhanced by remarkably powerful illustrations. 

Raucously we caw.
Your straw men do not fool us.
We burgle your corn.

Henry Holt and Company, 2011
Next up is WON-TON: A Cat Tale Told in Haiku, written by Lee Wardlaw and illustrated by Eugene Yeltsin. In this case, this big-eyed, sharp-clawed cat shares the experience of being a shelter cat through selection, adjustment, and acceptance in a rescue home.
Here's the first of three poems as the cat arrives at the shelter. 
Nice place they got here.
Bed. Bowl. Blanket. Just like home!
Or so I've been told.

And one from the collection labeled HOME:

Your tummy, soft as 
warm dough. I knead and knead, then
bake it with a nap.

Simon and Schuster BYR, 2007
A similar premise reflects the arrival of a stray dog at a home whose family has no intention of adding a dog. DOGKU is written  by Andrew Clements with heart-tugging illustrations by Tim Bowers. This adds a bonus flap haiku:
A tale in haiku
of one adorable dog.
Let's find him a home.

Even the author's and illustrator's dedications are in haiku. 

Adjusting to a new home is never easy:
Chew on dirty socks.
Roll around in week-old trash.
Ahhh...that's much better.

Houghton Mifflin Books for Children, 2010

Last (for now), but certainly not least, Is GUYKU: A Year of Haiku for Boys, written by Bob Raczka and illustrated by Peter H. Reynolds. Organized by seasons, beginning in SPRING (isn't that when every year really begins?), these are action-packed insights into the power of poetry to capture pure joy. 

I free grasshopper
from his tight, ten-fingered cage--
he tickles too much!

And later in the year...

Icicles dangle,
begging to be broken off
for a short sword fight.

So, I invite you to join me in my resistance to the unconscious restrictions of theme months. Hustle on out (or click on your library hold access online) and check out these terrific books. I'm excited to add that these, and their authors, will lead you to additional outstanding titles. 

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Picture books are as versatile and diverse as the readers who enjoy them. Join me to explore the wacky, wonderful, challenging and changing world of picture books.