From School Library Journal
Grade 2-6 This book introduces senryu, a Japanese verse form that can involve the evasive, the punny, the parodic, and the slapstick. As the back cover explains, What is a senryu?/A funny poem that is/Almost haiku-ckoo. On the title page, readers find a youngster in pursuit of a renegade ball (a metaphor for the poetic style). It takes the boy down a ladder, below ground to a wacky parallel universe where everything familiar is turned upside down. As the chase continues, a series of delightful poems describes this strange world. The highly spirited verses feature witty wordplay and puns: My older sister/gets a complete makeover /very
mascary! or On Ferris wheel/I regret French fries, milk shake /those below agree. Finally, the ball disappears into a giant poet-tree. A few of the offerings may not have the same layered meaning for youngsters as they do for adults; for example, an insect photographer introduces himself as a shutterbug. Still, this book fulfills its purpose to revive and invigorate the language, and does so with humor. In her ink-and-watercolor cartoons, Tusa uses a soft palette, strong lines, and abundant white space to define the comical characters. Her artwork is a marvelous vehicle to increase children's visual literacy while complementing these zany and memorable verses. A fun choice to pair with Janeczko's A Kick in the Head
(Candlewick, 2005). Teresa Pfeifer, Alfred Zanetti Montessori Magnet School, Springfield, MA
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Gr. 2-4. A senryu is similar to a haiku but runs to the witty and tends to be about people rather than nature. Janeczko and Lewis take the concept and turn it into funny, punny pieces that put the play in wordplay. The short poems will find an audience among a wide age range, and in some ways that's a problem. "High school band minus / its tuba player--looking for a substi-toot" will get a chuckle from younger as well as older kids, but "Noah Webster had / no choice except to put / the cart before the horse" demands a more sophisticated reader. Tusa's ink-and-watercolor illustrations, which may remind some readers of David Small's work, mine for the humor--and find it, though a picture of birds depositing droppings on people doesn't add much to clarify "City pigeons chatter / and coo--busybodies / eavesdropping." Children who get the easier bits of verse may stretch themselves to understand the harder ones, but adult help will still be necessary for many. That's fine, because there's lots of fun to be had. Ilene CooperCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved