Tag Archives: haiku

PPBF – Kiyoshi’s Walk

For the last Perfect Picture Book posting during Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, I want to feature a new picture book that is perfect in so many ways, and features an Asian-American pair.

Title: Kiyoshi’s Walk

Written By: Mark Karlins

Illustrated By: Nicole Wong

Publisher/Date: Lee & Low Books/2021

Suitable for Ages: 4-8

Themes/Topics: intergenerational, haiku, poetry, nature, the senses, observation, Asian/Americans

Opening:

Kiyoshi watched his grandfather, the wise poet Eto, write a poem with brush and ink. The brush flicked across the page.

            The dripping faucet/Takes me back to my old home./Raindrops on frog pond.

The words made Kiyoshi smile. He wished he could make poems too. “Where do poems come from?” he asked.

Brief Synopsis: To show Kiyoshi where poems come from, his wise grandfather invites him to walk around the neighborhood with him.

Links to Resources:

  • Take a walk. What do you see? Close your eyes. What do you hear or smell? How do the sights, sounds, or smells make you feel? Draw a picture of what you saw and/or write about your walk;
  • Check out the Teacher’s Guide for more ideas.

Why I Like this Book:

An Asian-American grandfather and grandson enjoying time spent together. A stroll through an urban neighborhood, including a large, natural park. Haiku inspired by the journey. Detailed illustrations of the pair’s journey. What’s not to love about Kiyoshi’s Walk?

I can imagine a grandparent and grandchild reading this picture book together, using it as a springboard to their own shared adventures. With Father’s Day next month, it would make a perfect gift for a favorite grandfather.

I also can imagine the fun a teacher or librarian can have with this book, including with older children, as they discuss how one find’s inspiration in everyday occurrences to create poetry or art.

I especially love the answer to his initial question that Kiyoshi shares near the end of the story, that poems come from what we experience outside ourselves, including the sights, sounds, and smells of the environment where we are, and from our hearts. As Eto confirms, “they come from the way the two come together.” Such a beautiful conclusion to this journey of discovery.

A Note about Craft:

In Kiyoshi’s Walk, Karlins combines an intergenerational journey with a blueprint to finding inspiration and writing haiku. He invites readers to slow down, to observe the natural and human-made world around them, and to use these observations as a springboard to creativity. He even includes several haikus as examples for budding poets. These many layers add up to a wonderful new picture book, sure to inspire creativity among its readers.

This Perfect Picture Book entry is being added to Susanna Hill’s Perfect Picture Book list. Check out the other great picture books featured there!

Perfect Pairing of Poetry Picture Books

I’ve been serving as a Round 1 panelist for the Cybils Awards poetry section these past few months, reading almost 50 picture book, middle grade and young adult books of poetry and novels in verse. I had known about the first book I feature below, but hadn’t had the pleasure of reading it until it was nominated to that list. I’m so glad I’ve now read it! Not only was the publication of this collection a gift from a daughter to her late mother, but the haiku themselves are a gift to kids young and old. I hope you read and enjoy both of these picture books – I certainly did.

H is for Haiku: A Treasury of Haiku from A to Z

Author: Sydell Rosenberg

Illustrator: Sawson Chalabi

Publisher/Date: Penny Candy Press/2018

Ages: 5-11

Themes: haiku; poetry; nature

Short Synopsis (from Goodreads):

In H Is For Haiku: A Treasury of Haiku from A to Z, the late poet Sydell Rosenberg, a charter member of the Haiku Society of America and a New York City public school teacher, and illustrator Sawsan Chalabi offer an A-Z compendium of haiku that brings out the fun and poetry in everyday moments.

Read a review and interview with Rosenberg’s daughter, Amy Losak, at Picture Books Help Kids Soar.

 

Poems in the Attic

Author: Nikki Grimes

Illustrator: Elizabeth Zunon

Publisher/Date: Lee & Low Books/2015

Ages: 7-8

Themes: poetry; family history; intergenerational

Short Synopsis (from Goodreads):

During a visit to her grandma’s house, a young girl discovers a box of poems in the attic, poems written by her mother when she was growing up. Her mother’s family often moved around the United States and the world because her father was in the Air Force. Over the years, her mother used poetry to record her experiences in the many places the family lived. Reading the poems and sharing those experiences through her mother’s eyes, the young girl feels closer to her mother than ever before. To let her mother know this, she creates a gift: a book with her own poems and copies of her mother’s. And when she returns her mother’s poems to the box in the attic, she leaves her own poems too, for someone else to find, someday. Using free verse for the young girl’s poems and tanka for her mother’s, master poet Nikki Grimes creates a tender intergenerational story that speaks to every child’s need to hold onto special memories of home, no matter where that place might be.”

Read a review and an interview with Nikki Grimes about this book in the Horn Book.

I paired these books because they are both poetry collections, perfect for reading together, and because they offer differing perspectives on an intergenerational theme: In H is for Haiku, Rosenberg wrote the poems for children, but they were collected and published by her daughter, Amy Losak – an act of filial love and a gift to readers. In Poems in the Attic, a grandchild exploring her grandmother’s attic finds letters written by her mother as a girl and through them learns more about her mother. It also involves a gift, in this case, the original poems and the daughter’s responses, compiled into a book.

Looking for similar reads?

See Nikki Grimes’ A Pocketful of Poems (2001), which pairs haiku and free verse poems; Seeing Into Tomorrow, Nina Crews (2018), the haikus of Richard Wright with photographs by Crews; Earth Verse: Haiku from the Ground Up, Sally M. Walker (2018).