My First Book of Haiku Poems: a Picture, a Poem and a Dream; Classic Poems by Japanese Haiku Masters

tr. from Japanese by Esperanza Ramirez-Christensen. illus. by Tracy Gallup. 48p. Tuttle. Mar. 2019. Tr ISBN 9784805315156. BL
K-Gr 4–This book introduces children to haiku poetry through 20 classic works by historical haiku masters including Issa, Shiki, Gomei, and others. Composed of 17 syllables and three lines, these short but powerful poems speak of our connection to the natural world. Ramirez-Christensen, a professor of Japanese literature at the University of Michigan, has chosen and translated the poems of these great haiku masters and offers the text in both English and Japanese. Each poem is paired with a stunning original painting that reflects the strength and beauty of the words, opening the door to the world of imagination. Illustrator Gallup's superb artwork vividly captures the nature of the poet's meaning. Along with the crisp and contemplative translations, the text also includes questions about both the words and illustrations to stimulate keen observation and discussion. Although the book's main demographic is children, it offers many ideas and suggestions for parents and teachers on ways to read, understand, and share the tradition and expressive meaning of haiku poetry. The book also includes a textless illustration to encourage would-be poets to write their own haiku. The final pages of the book feature the history of haiku and short bios of the master poets.
VERDICT Well-constructed and thoughtful, this collection is a recommended title. Teachers and librarians could pair with other recent titles featuring haiku poetry such as Hi, Koo! by John Muth, Guyku by Bob Raczka, and Won Ton by Lee Waidlaw.-Carole Phillips, Greenacres Elementary School, Scarsdale, NY

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