Poetry Friday: H IS FOR HAIKU Book Talk

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Thanks to Linda B. at TeacherDance who is hosting Poetry Friday today. It’s going to be great.

This week, I’m starting a new chapter on this blog. The last few years, the blog has focused more on student work and less on book reviews/talks/ recommendations. Over the last month, I’ve been mulling over what to do with this blog. Certainly, when the opportunity presents itself to showcase student work, I will.

So I’ve decided to feature poetry books on this blog for Poetry Friday.

I am please to share with you H IS FOR HAIKU A TREASURY OF HAIKU FROM A TO Z by Sydell Rosenberg today. Rosenberg was a chartered member of the Haiku Society of America (HSA). She was a public school teacher and used her experiences as a springboard for haiku.

In Amy Losak’s introduction of her mom’s book, she speaks of the small moments that haiku makes big. This is what I love. It’s the very reason I write haiku and teach students about the form. In a society where the small moments can be missed, slowing down for discovery is so necessary.

H IS FOR HAIKU begins with Rosenberg’s definition. My favorite part of her explanation? “Haiku can’t be gimmicked; it can’t be shammed. If it is slicked into cuteness, haiku losses what it has to give.”

Here are a few examples as page spreads.

adventures over
the cat sits in the fur ring
of his tail and dreams

first library card
and a promise to read all
authors A to Z

queuing for ice cream
sweat-sprinkled office workers
on Queens Boulevard

Whether you are a first grader practicing a recorder or Xavier at the beauty parlor or seeing children with umbrellas as mushrooms, each haiku is a fresh small moment that still resonates today. It’s difficult to believe that the original haiku were written long before the publishing of the book. Rosenberg’s word choice is impeccable and rich.

Sawsan Chalabi’s illustrations are a bright complement to the text. Did you know she was responsible for the lettering of the haiku? To me it adds to the structure of the book. I’m not sure the book would work as well had the lettering been a standard font and size.

I would recommend getting this book if you need a mentor text in haiku. Losak addresses the English interpretation of haiku as being the 5-7-5 structure while explaining that many writers (including her mom) aren’t so strict about the syllable count. I think this is important when teaching young writers. I’ve been told that rules were created to be broken and the hard fast syllable structure should be broken when appropriate.

H is FOR HAIKU is nominated for the CYBILS Award in Poetry.

Title: H IS FOR HAIKU
Author: Sydell Rosenburg
Illustrator: Sawsan Chalabi
Published: 2018
Pages: unpaged
Reading Level: 3rd grade and up
Publisher: Penny Candy Books
ISBN: 978-0-9987999-7-1
Source: Personal purchase

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