Noticing the beauty in simple things and in everyday moments is something that many of us forget to do. We are too busy doing things and rushing from place to place. Sometimes we need to be reminded that it is important to stop so that we can look at, listen to, and appreciate the world around us. In today's poetry book the author beautifully captures special moments, season by season, combining lovely art with gem-like haiku poems. The book shows us that the little things can make our lives richer and happier. If we remember to look for them.
Jon J. Muth
Poetry Picture Book
For ages 5 to 7
Scholastic, 2014, 978-0-545-16668-3
In the past haiku was a form of poetry that was only used by Japanese poets, but it now used to write poems in many languages. Though the original form often has to be modified a little to allow for linguistic differences, the essence of haiku is always the same. The form captures “a moment of emotion that reminds us that our own human nature is not separate from nature.” In just three short lines the poet freezes a moment in time and allows us to savor it. Often the poem explores an aspect of nature or it refers to some element in nature.
In his poems in this book Jon J. Muth takes us through the year, and our guide is a small panda bear called Koo. Koo has a natural curiosity about the world around him and he appreciates the small pleasures in life. In fall he savors a dance in the cold rain, which is followed by a bowl of hot soup at home. This is also a time of year when “Eating warm cookies / on a cold day / is easy.”
As far as Koo is concerned, winter is for playing outdoors with his friends. Koo does a “powdery stomp” in the snow, and he wonders if the icicles hanging from the eves “will touch the ground.” He watches as the cat “vanishes / Just ears…and twitching tail” when she goes out into the snow.
Then, when “winter is old now / and closes her doors,” spring arrives with crocuses and “New leaves / new grass new sky.” After too many days spent watching the television Koo and his two friends go out to explore the awakening world.
This is a book that children and adults alike will enjoy. The artwork is simple yet beautifully expressive, and the haiku perfectly captures those moments during a year that are precious gifts.