Sonderbooks Book Reviews by Sondra Eklund

Sonderbooks Stand-out 2004
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***If Not for the Cat

haiku by Jack Prelutsky

paintings by Ted Rand

Reviewed October 26, 2004.
Greenwillow Books (HarperCollins), New York, 2004.  40 pages.
A 2004 Horn Book Fanfare selection.
Available at Sembach Library (J 811.54 PRE).
Sonderbooks Stand-out 2004, #6, Children's Nonfiction

This book is a collection of seventeen haiku about animals, accompanied by beautiful paintings.  I like the title haiku about a mouse:

“If not for the cat,
And the scarcity of cheese,
I could be content.”

Another good one is about jellyfish:

“Boneless, translucent,
We undulate, undulate,

Or the crows:

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

The only thing I didn’t like about the book was that it seemed silly to pretend it was a puzzle book.  There is a picture of each animal with the haiku, so only a tiny child wouldn’t know what animal the poem refers to.  It would have been better to just title the poetry with the animal names rather than put “answers” at the back.

This is a nice departure from Jack Prelutsky’s humorous poetry that I was more familiar with.  (One of the first books my youngest son read aloud was a collection of Jack Prelutsky’s poetry, since he liked it so much.)  This is a great way to introduce kids to haiku.

Have you ever tried writing haiku while waiting at a restaurant?  Take turns writing lines.  The results can be amusing.  Okay, I confess that it was my husband who got me interested in haiku.  He once started a haiku-writing contest on a boring bus trip with his work.  Since then, we’ve done some group efforts.  This collection reminded me of the cleverness and quiet insight that can be found in haiku.

Copyright © 2005 Sondra Eklund.  All rights reserved.

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