About the Holiday
Great things come in small packages, right? Just look at your incredible kids! It’s the same with poetry! The haiku may be the smallest form of poetry, but its three little lines contain enormous heart and insight. Traditionally written with nature themes, haiku now touches on every subject. Poets the world over have designated February as National Haiku Writing Month—also known as NaHaiWriMo. The challenge is to write one haiku a day with a goal to improve their art and share their work. To celebrate this month, try your hand at writing haiku and introduce your littlest readers to these little verses.
H is for Haiku: A Treasury of Haiku from A to Z
Written by Sydell Rosenberg | Illustrated by Sawsan Chalabi
In her lovely and delightfully whimsical poems, Sydell Rosenberg holds moments in the palms of her hands, letting readers immerse themselves in the tender, humorous, and wistful flashes of a day before they shift, evolve, or fade away. H is for Haiku begins, appropriately, with Adventure and its dreamy memory for a worn-out kitten as he slumbers.
The journey continues as readers meander along a city sidewalk and see a “Boy on a mailbox / perched like a solitary bird / watching the sunset.” Walking on, readers peek into car backseats, queue for ice-cream on a sweaty summer day, and visit a barbershop where you always ask for Xavier. Down country lanes, you’ll spy a pale moon, turn the heads of sunflowers, share bike rides and car rides, and watch as “Munching on acorns / a squirrel sweeps up sunbeams / with her transparent tail.”
Rosenberg’s studied eye for connections makes her poems especially enchanting. Leaves and flowers, birds and insects, rain and thunder interact with those in their midst, adorning hair, scurrying away, playing musical backup, meeting danger, and creating transformations like the one at Y: “Yesterday’s cool rain / left this flat puddle smoothing / the wrinkled leaves.” A trip to the fish market is infused with humor, and an optical illusion makes you look twice at the flamingos in a pond.
Even in her observations of the routine, Rosenberg remind readers that there is music and poetry in common actions. For example, at U we hear: “Up and down the block / homeowners mate the covers / of gusted trash cans.” As a teacher sits grading papers to close out the book, readers can’t be faulted for wishing our alphabet had a few more letters.
As a teacher Sydell Rosenberg was attuned to the spirit of children, and her sophisticated and fun haiku are particularly accessible for young readers. Touching on a wide range of subjects, Rosenberg invites kids to look and look again. Her keen observations and lilting imagery will inspire them to do just that.
Sawsan Chalabi’s charmingly quirky illustrations and stylized lettering present each poem with dash and personality that will enchant kids. Her delicately lined drawings are infused with vibrancy from a gorgeous color palette. Just like Rosenberg’s haiku, Chalabi’s pages are animated with a love for life that will resonate with kids—and adults.
H is for Haiku would make a terrific gift for poetry lovers and a wonderful addition to home, school, and public library collections.
Ages 5 – 11 (and up)
Penny Candy Books, 2018 | ISBN 978-0998799971
Discover more about Sawsan Chalabi and view a portfolio of her work on her website.
Read an interview about Sydell Rosenberg with her daughter Amy Losak, who compiled H is for Haiku and brought it to publication.
Haiku Poetry Day Activity
Haiku Wall Art
The haiku you write deserves to be shared with others! With this easy craft you can display your poem in style.
- Colorful heavy stock paper, 2 or three colors
- Glue or glue dots, or double-sided tape
- Dowel or wire for hanging
- Paint to paint the dowel (optional)
- Write a haiku and print the lines on colored paper
- Cut the lines apart, making the first and third line shorter than the second line
- Glue or tape the lines to the ribbon, leaving about a half inch between them
- To make the hangers, fold the tops of the ribbon over and glue or tape it closed
- If using a dowel to hold the poem, you can paint it to match or contrast with the paper
- Hang the poem from a dowel or wire
You can find H is for Haiku at these booksellers
Picture Book Review