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Cool Melons - Turn To Frogs!: The Life And Poems Of Issa Paperback – August 31, 2004


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Cool Melons - Turn To Frogs!: The Life And Poems Of Issa + Haiku: Learn to express yourself by writing poetry in the Japanese tradition (Asian Arts and Crafts For Creative Kids) + GUYKU: A Year of Haiku for Boys
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 40 pages
  • Publisher: Lee & Low Books (August 31, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1584302410
  • ISBN-13: 978-1584302414
  • Product Dimensions: 10.3 x 8.3 x 0.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #761,733 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

This superb homage to the 18th-century Japanese haiku master is as elegant and spare as the poet's form. Gollub's (The Moon Was at a Fiesta) brief biography introduces Issa's pertinent haiku and tells the story of Issa's transformation from a sad child (his stepmother thwarted his gift) to a recognized, talented poet. Japanese artist Stone (Dorobo the Dangerous), who chose the haiku represented here for Gollub's translation, captures the moment described in each poem with exquisite details, imbued with quiet emotion. For example, for the poem "Climb Mount Fuji,/ Snail, but slowly,/ slowly!" Stone puts readers at a vantage point above a snail traversing a tree branch that appears to lead the way up the great mountain's slope. The poem and image come at the point in the biography when Issa is just beginning his studies, in the long journey to master poet. The book's design lends a fluidity to the interlacing elements: within the narrative, a poem appears on each page, coupled with Stone's expressive visual representation, while the haiku in Japanese calligraphy runs down the outer border. For students of haiku, Gollub explains his deviation from the 17-syllable definition (he chose to adhere closely to Issa's words) and gives a brief history of haiku. Readers would be hard-pressed to find a more eloquent, concise and inspiring approach to understanding (and writing) this deceptively simple art form. Ages 4-up.
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From School Library Journal

Grade 2-5-A successful collaboration of verse and prose that brings a famous 18th-century poet to life. Gollub's original translations of Issa's haiku are interspersed with biographical narrative (slightly fictionalized) so that each one lends context to the other. Each poem is illustrated with a realistic spot or framed watercolor-and-colored-pencil picture, and rendered in Japanese calligraphy in the outer margin. Stone elaborates on her artistic research in endnotes. Gollub explains in detail how he went about his translations so that readers can understand what to look for and what's lost. Although just an introduction, this book explains much about haiku and those who wrote it, information not usually included in titles written for this age level. However, no mention is made of what made Issa so different from his predecessors-his poetry had a casualness and sense of humor that was both criticized and popular. Along with Dawnine Spivak's Grass Sandals (Atheneum, 1997), this book works at restoring the historical and literary context to this popular form of poetry as well as at instilling an appreciation for one of its most enjoyable practitioners.
Nina Lindsay, Oakland Public Library, CA
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

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Since I'm trying to learn about Haiku, this was the perfect book.
lmj
It also carries an underlying message of how one can not only persevere through mistreatment and adversity but keep a caring and uplifted spirit.
Linda Austin - MoonbridgeBooks
Kazuko Stone's watercolors accompany Matthew Gollub's with great style, and his text always pleases.
mcHaiku

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

15 of 15 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on July 11, 2000
Format: Hardcover
I think this has got to be the best haiku book I've ever read. The illustrations are magnificent, and its power and sensitivity communicate Issa's poems to readers of all ages. The author's translations of the Japanese poems to English capture Issa's timeless charm and the love he felt for all living things--including frogs and crickets! And what makes this book so valuable to me as a teacher is the whopping 3 page author's note. It lends perspective, and plenty of background information, on reading and writing haiku. My 2nd grade class felt so inspired by this book that they've been REQUESTING time to refine their own haiku ever since I read it aloud!
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Lisa on July 30, 2001
Format: Hardcover
This is an excellent account of Issa's life and poetry. This story goes through important stages of Issa's life and incorporates his poetry into the stages. This unique book explains how Issa succeeds as a poet even though he endures difficulties in his life. Children of all ages will enjoy the story and beautiful illustrations. I think the author and illustrator did a great job of working together to create a fine story abour this Japanese haiku writter. The best part of this book is the poems. The poems are written in English and also in Japanese. This book will capture your interest.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Linda Austin - MoonbridgeBooks on April 3, 2007
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Recommended to me by a school librarian, this book was a sweet delight which I read to my child thinking to encourage her to enjoy poetry. We both enjoyed this book and its wonderful illustrations of Japanese life, learning about the sad life of Issa and what is behind some of his poems, especially as haiku are not as simple as they appear on the surface. While the story may be a bit intense for very young children, the book accomplishes its intention of providing an interesting and eye-catching introduction to haiku and the sensitivity to feeling and experience that helps create the art of poetry. It also carries an underlying message of how one can not only persevere through mistreatment and adversity but keep a caring and uplifted spirit. LOVED the author's informational notes at the end.

Also see Grass Sandals : The Travels of Basho
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By A. M. White on November 17, 2006
Format: Hardcover
The haikus in this book are excellent. They match beautifully with the illustrations. What a great way to introduce haiku to a young person (and an older person!)

My only disappointment is the interspersing of Issa's life into the work. It would have been better to have it as an author note at the end. The "story" part of Issa, I think, makes it difficult to give this as a gift or to share with children unless you are prepared to start addressing fears of mommy dieing when you (child) are three, having a mean stepmother that yells at you, etc.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Reflection Haiku on October 5, 2009
Format: Paperback
The impressive quality of the illustrations and translations presented in this children's book makes it a cherished Haiku collector's item. What can haiku (or this book) do for our children? If the child is scientist-oriented, he/she will have fun see the world through insects' perspectives and experience the transforming power of imagination turning cool melons into frogs. If the child loves drawing, the book will enrich their interests with Eastern style paintings where Japanese character itself is a fascinating art. If the child has a writer in them, this book will share the strength of ISSA who first found comfort and hope in writing haiku after losing his mother at a very young age, had then emerged, through persistence and faith, to be the Japanese cultural icon whose name we equates with HAIKU today.

The Spring of My Life: And Selected Haiku
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Ellen Etc. VINE VOICE on April 8, 2008
Format: Hardcover
The best introduction to haiku, by way of the life of Issa, that I have read thus far in my study of haiku. This is an illustrated picture book aimed at children, but it captures the essence of the haiku moment beautifully, and for the beginner, the illustrations open up the words and provide an image -- one way to appreciate the connection between the words and the experiential moment. The translations are fresh and not syllable-bound, thankfully, with an added bonus of the haiku in Japanese cursive along the sides of the pages.

This book is a perfect combination of concept, design, and execution, with engaging text and tender, whimsical, and astonishingly apt illustrations. The pictures of the Buddhas at New Years was startling, and the one of the dove and the owl was emotionally piercing. No flaws, nothing could be improved in this fine book.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By mcHaiku on March 7, 2006
Format: Hardcover
Kazuko Stone's watercolors accompany Matthew Gollub's with great style, and his text always pleases. Do you feel a childlieke innocence in the verses of ISSA? His mother died when he was three and perhaps his sadness is reflected in this verse:

"The new Year's first dream -- I see my village and wake to a chilly tear."

Four years later he had a step-mother who brought dissention to the household so that the father finally took the boy to a path leading to Edo (now Tokyo) when he was 17 years old.

Every person should experience during Lent some humor. This leads to the conviction that the writing of HAIKU is an appropriate theme for a Lenten retreat. These are obviously different but the interior of our hearts is where a sharing of philosophies can begin.

We should also experince during the Lenten Season thoughtful meditation aand a caring exchange, "TO CATCH ONE MEANINGFUL MOMENT IN TIME" - a quote from the author is something we should all try to achieve.

Reviewer mcHAIKU has a neighbor in the Indiana woods who titled her book "Swimming with Frogs" (isbn: # 0253217563) You will greatly enjoy her tribute to Nature in Brown County, and find a true urge to write HAIKU down in these hills. And a verse of Issa's will amuse you with his humorous explanation as to why people shouldn't come near melons!
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