Tuesday, March 1, 2011

The Cuckoo's Haiku (A LS 5663 Review)

Rosen, Michael J. 2009. The Cuckoo’s Haiku and Other Birding Poems. Somerville: Candlewick. ISBN: 978-07636-3049-2.

     Research on children’s poetry preferences shows that haikus are one of the least favorite forms of poetry and that children prefer humorous poetry or poetry written about familiar situations (Vardell 75). With that research in mind, it is understandable that a book of haikus about birds may not interest young children. This collection of poems, marketed on Amazon as a book for children ages 4-8, did not break the mold that research found. The book is divided by the four seasons, and each haiku is devoted to one bird. In addition to the poem, there is side information about the bird. The side information is in a beautiful scroll type, which is difficult for young children, many of which do not know how to read or write cursive, to decipher. Struggling readers will not invest the time to read the small scroll. So, while the script adds to the whimsical pictures, it does not help students who are curious about the birds. While the pictures in the book are beautiful, vivid watercolors of unique birds and their surroundings, they lack appeal for young children.

     March brings the beginning of spring for those in Texas (April for the rest of the country), and for many, it’s the first chance in a long time to get outside and feel the warmth of the sun. The haiku entitled “Eastern Bluebird” reminds the reader that the birds are spring’s first song.

“On a staff of wires

Blue notes inked from April skies

Truly, spring’s first song” (Rosen 3).

     When spring brings those beautiful crisp afternoons, these poems make for a great break from the classroom. After reading this haiku, the students can take a break outside, enjoying spring’s first song, writing about the birds and sounds they hear. Seeing and hearing the birds can spark interest in writing about them, and although most kids do not enjoy haikus, maybe the same beautiful birds that inspired the author will inspire them as well.

Vardell, Sylvia. 2006. Poetry Aloud Here. Chicago: American Library Association. ISBN: 0-8389-0916-7.

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