Thursday, January 24, 2008

Tap Dancing on the Roof

Park, Linda Sue. 2007. TAP DANCING ON THE ROOF; SIJO (POEMS). Ill. by Istvan Banyai. New York: Clarion. ISBN 9780618234837 [Suggested Grade Levels 3-6]

Sijo is to Korea as haiku is to Japan: a poetry form with a fixed number of stressed syllables. Sijo is usually divided into three long or six short lines. The important difference is that sijo always has a twist or joke at the end. Newbery award-winning author, Linda Sue Park, presents twenty-six sijo for our enjoyment.

Park instructs us in an introduction that each line has a special purpose. The first line introduces the topic; the second develops the topic further. The third line contains some kind of twist such as humor, irony or a play on words. In a three line sijo titled “Breakfast” she writes: ”For this meal, people like what they like, the same every morning. / Toast and coffee. Bagel and juice. Cornflakes and milk in a white bowl. / Or – warm, soft, and delicious – a few extra minutes in bed.”

The illustrations by Banyai are in a stylized, retro pen-and-ink-look created digitally, both old fashioned and modern at the same time. The end papers tell their own story, different both front and back. Even though the intended audience is for younger children, the illustrations push the age level forward so that even 4th – 6th graders would have fun with this. Park includes an author’s note as well as suggestions for further reading and tips on writing sijo.

Invite students to compose sijo. Discuss whether sijo poems are easier to write than haiku or not.

Books by the same author:
Park, Linda Sue. 2001. A SINGLE SHARD. ISBN 0395978270
Park, Linda Sue. 2005. PROJECT MULBERRY: A NOVEL. ISBN 0618477861

By Cay Geisler

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