“It’s amazing what you can see when you just sit quietly and look.”
Jacqueline Kelly, The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate
Looking closely and seeing familiar objects in new and unique ways is the essence of poetry. H is For Haiku is a joyful collection of haiku by Sydell Rosenberg, a poet and New York City public school teacher who passed away in 1996, that celebrates everyday life 17 syllables at a time. Rosenberg’s daughter, Amy Losak, has lovingly gathered 26 poems to fulfill her mother’s dream of publishing a book of haiku for children. (Read more about this journey here.)
I love that this collection begins with the word adventure, for that’s exactly what H is For Haiku is. Readers step into a world where children’s daily lives and dreams spill across the page, just as the universe seems to be pouring out of a cat’s tail in the first poem. What child hasn’t thought of monsters when they see lobsters in a tank or wondered about turtles perched on a rock?
Rosenberg’s haiku are also full of the joy of language. Young readers may not know what a jaunt is, but they will to go on one with a “wide-eyed doll” after reading the poem for the letter C. The subject of each poem does not necessarily begin with the letter the poem represents. This inventiveness shows children how playful language can be. After reading “a squirrel sweeps up sunbeams/with her transparent tail,” who won’t be inspired to notice the world in new way?
This collection is spirited, inventive, and fun. Sawsan Chalabi’s whimsical illustrations fill H is For Haiku with a diverse cast of expressive characters that perfectly complement the tone of Rosenberg’s poems. After reading H is For Haiku, children of all ages will pay closer attention as they go about their day, always on the lookout for the poetry hiding in unexpected corners of their world.
Honoring Syd’s life,
crafted with her daughter’s love:
H is For Haiku
Thank you, Amy Losak, for giving us the gift of your mother’s poetry.
Please be sure to visit Michelle Heidenrich Barnes at Today’s Little Ditty for the Poetry Friday Roundup.