From School Library Journal
Grade 1-4–Each of the 17 haiku in this collection explores the essence of an animal, the words forming a sort of riddle answered in Rand's accompanying double-page illustration. The title poem, "If not for the cat/And the scarcity of cheese,/I could be content," features a mouse looking at a bewhiskered nose through a hole; a jellyfish drifts across a spread in "Boneless, translucent,/We undulate, undulate,/Gelatinously." Prelutsky shows his command of word choice through a minimalist form that is perfectly matched by Rand's control of his mixed-media artwork to create a wonderful celebration of the art of haiku. This book, like George Shannon's Spring
(Greenwillow, 1996) and Dawnine Spivak's Grass Sandals
(Atheneum, 1997), shows the continuity and vitality of this ancient poetic form.–Kathleen Whalin, York Public Library, ME
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
PreS-Gr. 3. Quiet in tone and, like traditional haiku, taking inspiration from the natural world, these 17 poems express the points of view of individual animals, from mouse to moth, from skunk to crow. Each turn of the page brings a new verse, illustrated with a variety of media but primarily brushed ink and watercolors. The wide, double-page spreads offer plenty of space for illustrations, but Rand approaches the compositions with admirable subtlety and restraint in the use of color and detail, and he creates a series of dramatic scenes. In the title verse, a little mouse cowers on the dark side of his mouse hole while a cat's nose, mouth, and whiskers appear in his lighted doorway. White letters on the black page proclaim, "If not for the cat, / And the scarcity of cheese, / I could be content." The best of these poems play with sounds and words in an illuminating, satisfying manner, and even the more prosaic have the requisite 17 syllables, which teachers will appreciate. The appealing, accessible haiku verses and the large-scale, beautiful artwork will make this the go-to book for haiku to read aloud in classrooms. Carolyn PhelanCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved