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If Not for the Cat (Horn Book Fanfare List (Awards)) Hardcover – September 21, 2004
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From School Library Journal
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Top Customer Reviews
The book contains seventeen sweet and simple haikus. The titular poem reads, "If not for the cat / And the scarcity of cheese / I could be content". This sort of sets the tone for the rest of the book. For once, Prelutsky isn't afraid to bring out the big guns. He throws out large words that kids will learn simply by reading the poems in the context in which they occur. Says a jellyfish of deep blue, "Boneless, translucent / We undulate, undulate, / Gelatinously". The humor of these poems is of a slower sweeter nature than you'll find in books like, "Baby Uggs Are Hatching". A particularly Yoda-like sloth comments with baby on its chest, "I am slow I am / Slowest of the slow I am / In my tree I am". I better stop copying down these poems word for word, but you get the idea. They're all remarkably well-written and some carry a slight philosophical bent.Read more ›
A literary delight.
(You'll feel for the mouse.)
Haiku is simple enough in theory: it's three lines, each with five syllables, seven and then five again. Here, poet Prelutsky and illustrator Rand show how the simple can be made sublime in the hands of true masters.
A third-grade friend, having looked at the book and heard the 'rules' of Haiku, immediately composed a poem to her pet hamster:
We scurry like mice.
We run from nighttime to dawn.
We are soft and cute.
(I'd mention that my friends are now e-mailing each other in Haiku, but if you hadn't read the book, you wouldn't understand...)
This book is a treasure for children of all ages.
And would someone PLEASE get that poor mouse some cheese!
This book was extremely interesting to me because I enjoy writing Haiku, but I know it is often disliked by young students because it is often quite symbolic in nature. In contrast, Prelutsky's collection is somehow insightful enough to keep adults intrigued, yet simple enough for children to enjoy. I think Prelutsky's work in this collection might inspire some young writers to try Haiku poetry.
In the classroom, I might use this book as a morning mystery reading...reading one poem aloud each day and encouraging students to guess the animal being represented. Then I would reveal the animal at the end of the day. I would also encourage students to find the patterns in the words and attempt to write their own animal Haikus.
The problem with If Not for the Cat, Jack Prelutsky's marvelous book of guess-the-animal senryu, is that there's not nearly enough of it. It runs forty pages, which is about right for the preschool set, but couldn't we have done one senryu and awesome illustration per page, instead of giving each a two-page spread? Yes, this is very good stuff indeed, introducing toddlers not only to animals but to (pretty well-crafted) poetry as well. Sequel, please! *** 1/2
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Like the variety of haiku animals. Good for teaching students ho two write haiku. I like Prelutsky's writing and this is just another book added to my collection of his writing.Published 2 days ago by TxAngelBaby
A wonderful book, each story introduces (effortlessly) a difficult word. The pictures are great ans stories smart and some bordering on existential-fun for kids and parents alike. Read morePublished 11 months ago by anetta
I am not a fan of Jack Prelutsky -- most of his children's poetry is nonsensical garbage, in all honesty -- but this book of haiku is first rate, lavishly illustrated, and worth a... Read morePublished on August 26, 2014 by Diane Stranz
Fantastic book for teaching inference to 3-6 grade students. Also used it for them to write inference haikus about animals of their choosing.Published on August 18, 2014 by C. Osborn
fun with haiku
My 6th grade students loved the book and were very motivated to write their own haiku riddle poems.
This was a great book to teach inference, syllables and poetry. The kids and I all had fun with it.Published on January 10, 2013 by kdblaisdell