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Hi, Koo!: A Year of Seasons Hardcover – February 25, 2014
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From School Library Journal
K-Gr 4—Muth, in his author's note, says "haiku is like an instant captured in words." Indeed, that is evident in 26 poems depicting images across four seasons, starting with fall. Muth's well-known panda, Koo, is depicted on a white background with just a touch of blue sky, looking up at swirling leaves: "Autumn/are you dreaming /of new clothes?" Koo, who begins alone, is soon joined by two children for the rest of the seasons. In the spring, birds alight on Koo, the girl, and on a branch held by the boy: "Quiet and still/long enough/for birds to make nests?" The color palette for the contemplative watercolors changes through the seasons, with a red-striped scarf and cardinal contrasting against the panda and the white snow. When a crown of snow falls on Koo he exclaims, "King!/my crown a gift/from a snowy branch." Muth's author's note also explains his variation from the traditional five-seven–five poetic form and invites readers to follow "an alphabetical path through the book by following the capitalized words in each haiku." While others haiku picture books include Andrew Clements's Dogku (S & S, 2007), Bob Raczka's Guyku (Houghton Harcourt, 2010), and Rita Gray's One Big Rain (Charlesbridge, 2010), no previous titles so cohesively capture the naturalistic spirit of Japanese haiku. Even readers who are not typically interested in poetry will be captivated by Muth's artistry in both words and images.—Julie R. Ranelli, Queen Anne's County Free Library, Stevensville, MD
First introduced in Zen Ties (2008) as Stillwater the panda’s nephew, Koo is alone in the narrative world of this verse collection, until a boy and girl from the neighborhood knock on his door. They share good times throughout the seasons, whether throwing snowballs, reading aloud to sparrows, or skipping stones. And sometimes Koo enjoys reflective moments alone, “becoming so quiet / Zero sound / only breath.” These very short poems, ranging from fresh to poignant to prosaic, are enhanced by the beautiful watercolor-and-ink illustrations on every page. Reflecting the brevity and imagery of the verse, the spare fall and winter pictures seem particularly fine, while their relative simplicity contrasts effectively with the profusion of color in the spring and summer scenes. Besides pointing out the subtle trail of alphabetically arranged capital letters in each poem throughout the book, the author’s note expresses Muth’s rationale for not restricting himself to “the five-seven-five syllable pattern that many of us grew up learning haiku must be.” Haiku or not, this collection is worth reading. Preschool-Grade 3. --Carolyn Phelan
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Top Customer Reviews
She finds the poems (and drawings) funny. I also have been surprised that after the first night of reading this, my daughter had some of the haiku in her memory.
I find the poems really capture the feelings with seasons well. The poems are short and really capture a "moment".
Also a cute feature, each haiku has one letter capitalized as you work through the alphabet. This is especially age appropriate for my daughter and a fun game for her to find the "big letter" ABC.