The Cuckoo's Haiku and Other Birding Poems

( 2 )

Overview

A joyful primer on the pleasures of bird-watching merges haiku, notes for identifying species, and exquisite watercolor illustrations.

In spare and graceful words, poet and birder Michael J. Rosen captures the forecasting call of the mysterious cuckoo as well as essential characteristics of more than twenty commonly seen North American birds. This artfully compiled fi eld notebook — enriched by the evocative artwork of watercolorist Stan Fellows — captures the excitement of ...

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Overview

A joyful primer on the pleasures of bird-watching merges haiku, notes for identifying species, and exquisite watercolor illustrations.

In spare and graceful words, poet and birder Michael J. Rosen captures the forecasting call of the mysterious cuckoo as well as essential characteristics of more than twenty commonly seen North American birds. This artfully compiled fi eld notebook — enriched by the evocative artwork of watercolorist Stan Fellows — captures the excitement of recognizing a bird, whether a darting kingfi sher, a wandering wild turkey, or a chirpy house sparrow.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

A rare gift for young and old alike, this exquisite book about birds combines delicate verses and stunning watercolors that celebrate the natural world. Designed as if it were a birder's notebook, the book provides an intriguing haiku for each bird, dazzling paintings of the species in their habitats, as well as notes about their behaviors and traits. The double-page spread about American goldfinches shows them perched on a thistle feeder, "above gold jonquils/ feeding finches stacked like coins/ April's alchemy." (A handwritten note adds, "funny-their song is 'potato-chips, potato-chips.' ") The poems are arranged by seasons, and Rosen's words conjure dramatic images-in winter the dark-eyed juncos are "phased like tilted moons/ half shadow, half reflection" while the blue jay is "December's bugler/ jay! jay! jay! your one carol." Fellows revels in the iridescent sheen of a blackbird or a field of summer wildflowers as he accurately yet expressively varies the point of view, settings and design elements for each page turn. Text and images, like a well-rehearsed duet, balance and echo each other's beauty. Ages 6-10. (Mar.)

Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
VOYA - Jan Chapman
This picture book pairs watercolor illustrations of twenty common American birds with an accompanying haiku. Divided into the seasons of the year, the book begins with the birds of spring. The subtle yet evocative watercolor illustrations complement each haiku without overwhelming them. The wheeling of starlings through the sky, for example, is painted with wonderful movement and vigor. One of the best haiku compares a flock of crows on a blooming apple tree to the seeds at the core of the tree. It is that kind of arresting visual image—birds as seeds at the center of a tree—that lead the reader to reflect more deeply about the crow and its place in nature. At the end of the book, notes give more information on each bird and why the poet was drawn to each particular image. This book would appeal to middle school teens who enjoy haiku and illustrated books, although it is too young for older teens. It would also appeal to reluctant readers who may shy away from poetry, thinking it too difficult to comprehend. Although the haiku are a bit uneven in quality, most achieve the serendipitous distillation of each subject that is the hallmark of a beautifully composed haiku. The deceptive simplicity of the words will draw readers who may be wary of poems that seem too "wordy," and the superior illustrations will capture their imagination. Reviewer: Jan Chapman
School Library Journal

Gr 3 Up

Rosen and Fellows present an appealing introduction to 24 common North American birds by melding poetry, field notes, and gorgeous watercolor artwork. The spare haiku verses are seasonally arranged and zero in on the avian subjects' distinctive characteristics that make them easy to identify, mainly their color, behavior, or song. The telegraphed verbal imagery is then expanded and enriched by the artist's deeply saturated naturalistic paintings. For example, "outside your window/the first mowers of spring? No.../hummingbirds are back!" shows the male and female rubythroats in larger-than-life splendor, and their "fast, squeaky chipping," as well as "the hum/buzz of their wings' vibration." This lovely volume has numerous curricular connections but basically it is a little gem to pore over and to foster an appreciation for the sights and sounds of nature.-Luann Toth, School Library Journal

Kirkus Reviews
"Haiku and bird-watching are kindred arts," writes the Ohio-based author on the jacket flap, "the subject of both is often a fleeting impression-a snatched glimpse." Rosen's poetic reflection eloquently captures the essence of this season-by-season celebration of 24 common American birds, and of haiku. Fellows's gorgeous watercolor sketches on double-page spreads model hummingbirds, grackles and purple finches in their natural habitats, while brief avian observations (in a delicate cursive that requires a bit of squinting) evoke an enthusiastic birder's field notes. For instance, on the American goldfinch spread, it's noted, "funny-their song is ‘potato-chips, potato-chips'." Each haiku mirrors one of the author's "fleeting impressions": That notorious mimic, the Northern mockingbird, is depicted as "the one-man bird band: / diva, choir, and orchestra / unbroken record" and, in another favorite, "wild turkeys' snow tracks / their arrows point us one way / they go the other." A not-to-be-ignored appendix (which highlights the book's unfortunate lack of pagination!) lists the 24 species and expands upon the author's personal insights-often quite wonderful-into both the birds and the words. (Poetry. 6-10)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780763630492
  • Publisher: Candlewick Press
  • Publication date: 3/10/2009
  • Pages: 64
  • Sales rank: 525,887
  • Age range: 6 - 9 Years
  • Product dimensions: 7.90 (w) x 8.80 (h) x 0.60 (d)

Meet the Author

Michael J. Rosen has written and edited more than sixty books for children and adults, including A DRIVE IN THE COUNTRY and DON'T SHOOT! CHASE R.'S TOP TEN REASONS NOT TO MOVE TO THE COUNTRY. He lives on one hundred forested acres in central Ohio.

Stan Fellows has illustrated several books for children, including JOHN MUIR: AMERICA'S FIRST ENVIRONMENTALIST by Kathryn Lasky. He lives in Iowa City.

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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing all of 3 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted June 14, 2009

    A great gift book to share with friends

    The illustrations are beautiful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 1, 2012

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted February 1, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

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