About the Holiday
Part of National Poetry Month, International Haiku Writing Day celebrates the wonders of this most minimalistic yet impactful type of poetry. The familiar 5-7-5 syllable rule doesn’t begin to describe the intricacies of form and thought that goes into these beautiful creations. If you have the opportunity today, read or write some haiku, or attend a recitation of this lovely form of expression.
The Maine Coon’s Haiku and Other Poems for Cat Lovers
Written by Michael J. Rosen | Illustrated by Lee White
Fortunately for poetry—and cat—lovers there are as many types of felines as there are ways to describe them. With wit and keen insight, this collection of haiku depicts the mystery, stealth, crouching, and curiosity of twenty breeds of cats.
The remains of a shredded plant elicits an unanswerable question in Ragdoll: “why today the cat / who sleeps beneath the ivy / halved the blameless hearts”.
Any cat owner who finds vases or lamps overturned will appreciate Siamese: “a toppled lamp shade / moon moth must be here somewhere / batted from the dark” It is commonly known that cats own their domain, a fact acknowledged in British Shorthair: “paws plant mud-daisies / along the polished hillside / parked on the cat’s street.”
In these lines felines become baseball players, gymnasts, ghosts, and mist, as in Bombay: “paired shadows prowling / in nightfall, but just two lights / pierce that darkness” and Norwegian Forest Cat: “caught among branches / fog descends the trunk headfirst / one foot at a time.”
While the haiku form is necessarily rigid, the supple rhythms of Michael Rosen’s phrases perfectly capture the vast array of quirks, moves, attitudes, and friskiness that make cats such favorite pets. These poems are in turn sweet, spirited, and humorous—just like their subjects.
Lee White similarly highlights the bounding, creeping, prowling, and snoozing postures of all manner and colors of the breeds represented here. The Turkish Angora is painted as transparent as it leaps through the door, becoming more opaque as it reaches mid-page and disappearing from the edge of the book, leaving only its back end behind. The Abyssinian plunks its head and whole body across the open book on its owner’s lap, its eyes closed in dreamy sleep, and the Scottish Fold indomitably maintains its perch in the magnolia tree, determined not to fall like the raining petals.
Ages 5 and up (any cat lover will enjoy these poems)
Candlewick Press, 2015 | ISBN 978-0763664923
Get to know Michael J. Rosen and discover books for kids and adults, poems, videos, work for radio and TV, and more on his website!
View a beautiful gallery of artwork for books and personal illustration by Lee White on his website!
International Haiku Poetry Day Activity
Hang in there, Kitty! Bookmark
Love cats? Love reading? Then here is the purrfect bookmark for you!
- Printable Hang in there, Kitty! bookmark template
- Colored pencils, crayons, or markers
- Print the Hang in there, Kitty! bookmark
- Color the bookmark
- Cut around the toes of the paws, leaving the top of the paws attached to make flaps that will hang over the book’s page you want to mark
Picture Book Review