Monday, January 11, 2010

Review #56: The Cuckoo's Haiku

Dad:  "The Cuckoo's Haiku..."  That's hard to say out loud, isn't it?
Lily (age 6):  It's a tongue twister!
Dad:  This is "The Cuckoo's Haiku" by Michael J. Rosen, illustrated by Stan Fellows.
Gracie (age 9):  This book is all haikus.
Dad:  Who can tell me what a haiku is.
Gracie:  It's a poem where you have to have 5 syllables, then 7 syllables, then 5 syllables.
Dad:  Does it have to rhyme?
Gracie:  No.
Dad:  "Poem" doesn't always mean "lines that end the same."  Poems are just when you write with rules in mind... when you fit words into a pattern.  Maybe the pattern is made of the last words in the lines rhyming.  But that's not the only kind of pattern.
Lily:  Five, seven, five.
Dad:  Can you describe this book?  We don't really have a plot to explain.
Isaac (age 11):  Haikus about birds.
Dad:  Well, that about sums it up...
Isaac:  Yup!
Gracie:  They are fun haikus.
Isaac:  They are cool.  They are very descriptive.
Gracie:  It doesn't just say "This is a gray bird / It can fly very high up / This is the end now."
Dad:  Ha ha - yes, that would have been a haiku...
Gracie:  But it would be boring.  The ones in this book are not boring.  Like the bluebird one goes: "on a staff of wires / blue notes inked from April skies / truly, spring's first song."  He made the poem awesome.
Isaac:  It's a very descriptive way of explaining birds.
Dad:  What do you like better, the paintings or the poems?
Gracie:  They are equally matched.  They are both stinking awesome!
Lily:  Awesomely stinking awesome!
Dad:  We talked about Michael J. Rosen's poems a bit already.  Tell me about Stan Fellow's illustrations.
Gracie:  He paints cool.  Isaac can paint birds that way!
Lily:  And when the artist drew something and changed his mind, he didn't even erase it.
Gracie:  But that makes it cool!
Lily:  He wanted to draw a grasshopper, and then he was like, "Nah, I don't want to do it anymore."
Dad:  So he left that part of the painting unfinished, huh.
Lily:  He didn't even finish drawing this bird.  He was like, "I want to color this bird in... naw... I don't want to color it anymore."
Gracie:  And he didn't even erase that unfinished part.  He doesn't care.  Whatever parts he wants to draw, he just draws.
Dad:  And he uses watercolors.  You guys like using watercolors don 't you?
Lily:  Yeah!  And sometimes he goes "splat-ly."  Sometimes it looks like he just whacks with the paintbrush so the paints go all over the paper.
Isaac:  He also puts all kinds of little pictures around randomly.
Gracie:  And he puts them in panels, panels, panels.
Lily:  This picture is on the same page as this picture, but he just put a square around it.
Gracie:  That's called a panel.
Dad:  Did you have a favorite page in this book?
Gracie:  Yes.  I'll find it.  I like this one.
Dad:  The Cedar Waxwing...
Gracie:  Yeah.  I like this part right here.  The part in the panel with the berry in his mouth.  I want to hang this up.  If we ever get 100 copies of this book, can I have one and cut this part out?  It's so pretty.
Isaac:  I like the turkey one.  It's just cool.
Dad:  That's my favorite too.
Gracie:  It would be better if the bird was the prettiest bird in the whole world instead of just a turkey.
Dad:  Turkeys might be goofy looking, but sometimes the goofy animals are more fun to look at than the pretty ones.
Lily:  I learned that turkeys' footprints look like arrows -- but the turkeys move the opposite way of the arrows.  So you can tell where a turkey is when it runs away.
Dad:  You just follow the arrows backward.
Lily:  Yep.
Dad:  We really liked the apple tree poem too...
Gracie:  Oh yeah, that was funny.
Dad:  To what did they compare the apple tree?
Gracie:  An actual apple.
Lily:  With "apple seed" birds.
Gracie:  If you flip the book upside down on the page with the white tree and the crows, the tree looks like an apple.
Lily:  A sliced open apple.
Gracie:  The black crows look like the seeds in the middle.
Dad:  So did this book inspire you?  Are you all creative and poetic now?  Do you have ideas flowing out of your brains like melted butter running down toast?
Gracie:  Dad, that was awesome!
Isaac:  No.  It's more like bricks stuck in my head that won't come out.
Dad:  There you go!  That sounds poetic too!  Just throw it into a haiku... 5, 7, 5.  "Bricks stuck in my head / Those darn thoughts will not come out / My poem is stuck."
Isaac:  You're good at haikus.  See, I could never do it that fast.
Dad:  Does anyone have a descriptive way to summarize the book?
Isaac:  Like, make up a haiku about the book?
Dad:  Yeah.  That's what Michael J. Rosen does.  He doesn't just say, "This is how it is."  He paints with words.  He makes a painting in our imagination, and his words are the brush.
Isaac:  How do you do that?  You are good at this stuff!
Dad:  How would you describe this book poetically?
Lily:  This book is like a bird.  Because they are both beautiful.
Gracie:  This book reminds me of music.  It's really pretty.  It's really graceful, and it's got its own rhythm.
Dad:  Good job.  Very poetic of you.

Just like a whistle
Hear my song both far and near
Turns frowns upside down

- picture and haiku by Lily

Changing dark to light
Two wild fires in the still night:
Searching yellow eyes

- picture and haiku by Isaac

Sweetest little bird,
Like cherries and strawberries
A feast for the eyes

- picture and haiku by Gracie

Author: Michael J. Rosen
Illustrator: Stan Fellows
Published, 2009: Candlewick Press
Like it? Find it


Unknown said...

You have three very smart and talented children. I found your blog through the Comment Challenge, and I'm glad I did.


ElizT said...

Shiny blue-black green
Tui check your feather ruff,
gurgle, click and chime

Pippi said...

Fantastic! Thank you for sharing your love of books.

Carrie said...

The thing I found most heartwarming was this line:

Gracie: He paints cool. Isaac can paint birds that way!

I love Gracie's compliment to her brother!!!

(And Gracie - your bird is pretty awesome as well!)

silly eagle books said...

I love the paintings and haikus--my favorite one is the last one--"like cherries and strawberries/a feast for the eyes"! Amazing.

I loved reading this conversation--my daughter is only 3, but I look forward to having discussions about haikus with her like this when she is older.

Hannah said...

I love how you captured this discussion, and wow, your children are so insightful about books! You didn't have to pry or nudge at all.

I'm going to be teaching a homeschool co-op class on Japan, and this book could be great for learning about haiku. Thank you!

Shelf Elf said...

Could you lend me your kids to come teach poetry to my grade 4 class?

What lovely poems! (and a lovely blog - it's my first visit thanks to the Comment Challenge - I'll be back!)

jenn said...

What a wonderful discussion. Your children are so insightful and all 3 are talented artists! I would love to record conversations like this with my own children in the future.

Katie said...

This has to be one of the most heart-warming things I've read all day. It's such a joy to read about a father sharing books with his children -- and even more, extending those by books by doing activities to reinforce their concepts.

So glad I came here from the Comment Challenge.

test said...

your kids will give you a run for your money :) found you thru the comments challenge! now will be adding you to my blogs to read :)

Heather Zundel said...

I've never heard about this book before. I love haikus so this would be a perfect addition to my library.

And I received your picture Gracie a couple of days ago. It is even more beautiful in person!

Amy @ Hope Is the Word said...

Oh, wow. This book sounds amazing, and of course, your children ARE amazing!

Thanks for linking up to Read Aloud Thursday!!!

Joy Steuerwald said...

You wrote a comment on my illustration for IF and I'm so glad you did! What a wonderful blog you have here and such brilliant, talented children! It's so heart warming to see something like this. Thanks for sharing!

Karen Edmisten said...

Love your kids' haiku
Their artwork is amazing
Great conversation


My daughters and I also loved this book. Thanks for sharing your kids with us.

Sherry said...

I'm with Isaac. You ARE good at this stuff, guiding discussion and transcribing it all. I've tried doing some book interviews at my blog with my urchins, and they've turned out fairly well. But you are the model!

Playing by the book said...

What a lovely conversation :-) I think it won't be long till I succumb to temptation and get this book. I first came across it when I was looking for stuff by Michael Rosen the UK poet (who I definitely recommend), and now your conversation might just have tipped the balance, unfortunately for my purse... :-)

Michelle said...

Both the artwork and poems are amazing. What talented children you have! Thank you so much for linking up and sharing this week :0)

laurasalas said...

Fun! I so enjoyed this post and will be back for more. Will have to check out this book, too. Thanks for sharing your conversation--your kids are a blast.

laurasalas said...

P.S. I forgot to say that the kids' haiku and paintings are stinking awesome! Seriously.

Mama to 5 said...

Wow - the paintings are beautiful! :)

Pippi said...

Fantastic! Thank you for sharing your love of books.

Gwen said...

I loved the paintings!!
Haiku is one of my favorite forms of poetry ever. Limerick is my favorite, haiku is second.

There once was a book review site.
It's funniness tends to excite
All the people who see it.
The kids have such spirit
And a dad who is up all the night.

I hope you enjoyed my impromptu limerick. :D
Thanks for sharing your haiku!!!