Monday, March 15, 2010

The Cuckoo's Haiku and other Birding Poems

Rosen, Michael J. 2009. THE CUCKOO’S HAIKU AND OTHER BIRDING POEMS. Ill. by Stan Fellows. Cambridge, MA: Candlewick. ISBN 9780763630492 [Suggested Grade Levels 3- 8]

Who knew haiku could be so gorgeous, informative and inspiring? Birds, seasons, and illustrations all come together beautifully in this poetry collection. Poet Michael J. Rosen offers two dozen haiku poems about all kinds of actual birds, grouped by the four seasons. In a series of double-page spreads for each poem and bird, illustrator Stan Fellows’ exquisite watercolor paintings provide surprisingly detailed, yet still evocative, close ups of each bird and a glimpse of its habitat. And each haiku poem captures the essence of each bird, with a particular emphasis on birdsong. Tiny factual tidbits appear in the backdrop of each page, adding to the informational value of the collection. Additional endnotes provide additional elaboration and detail. The overall effect is part nature journal and part artistic portrait—a lovely model for aspiring poets who may want to try writing their own haiku, an oft-abused poetic formula.

Lead the children in researching more information about the birds native to their own neighborhoods and communities. Invite a birdwatcher or ornithologist to share her/his hobby with the kids. Look (and listen) for examples of birdsong, in nature or via the Web (

More poetry about birds:
Ehlert, Lois. FEATHERS FOR LUNCH. ISBN 978-0152009861
Florian, Douglas. ON THE WING. ISBN 978-0152023669
George, Kristine O’Connell. HUMMINGBIRD NEST. ISBN 978-0152023256

By Sylvia M. Vardell

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