The Cuckoo's Haiku: and Other Birding Poems by Michael J. Rosen, illus. by Stan Fellows

cuckoos-haikuCindy: I’ve wanted to write about this book all spring, but kept rereading it and finding new treasures so I hadn’t handed it over to Lynn. Finally, the bright orioles feeding on my oranges on my deck rails prompted me to get moving on sharing this book. The Cuckoo’s Haiku (Candlewick, 2009) is a tribute to birds, poetry, and gorgeous field guides of days gone by. I couldn’t decide which inner spread to scan and share, and finally decided you simply must hold this book in your own hands and treasure each page. The watercolor paintings by Fellows are perfectly suited to the peculiarities of each bird and complement the haiku splendidly. Details about the birds’ features or habits are related in tiny cursive script, modeling field notes and Audubon prints. Older adults will have to don their reading glasses to share these with young readers but the information is worth the trouble. What young child won’t be curious to hear an American Goldfinch chirping, “potato-chip, potato-chip?” The images portrayed in the haiku adhere to the rules of the form and elicit intimate images of nature and a brief moment of time: bluebirds perched on a musical staff of telephone wires, pairs of cardinals as quotation marks around the day’s sunlight, woodpeckers riddling a tree with questions, and the trees’ yawning holes of response. The appendix gives extra information about the birds and helps explain the poems for younger readers. A tremendous gift for all bird lovers, young and old.

Lynn: Cindy is so right about this book! It really is a treasure in so many ways. Books are often labeled as being for all ages but this blissfully beautiful book truly fits that description. Our young focus group loved it, somewhat to my surprise, delighting in the pictures of the birds they recognize and intrigued by the tiny cursive details on each spread. Older students will also love the haiku poems that perfectly capture the spirit of each bird as well as the watercolor illustrations that pay homage to the classic bird prints. In one of our middle school libraries, we have a fabulous enormous book of the Audubon paintings, beautifully reproduced. We were always charmed by its magical attraction for our way cool middle schoolers who would leaf through the pages and study the drawings in amazement. This is definitely a book for adults too who will cherish the entire glory of the book and its design. I think adult readers will notice that it yields a distinct calming effect. Just open the book at random and I promise you will feel your stress lessen and your blood pressure lower.

This is a book for every classroom and library. One of its many interesting features is that it is arranged by season. It would work perfectly to dip into the book with students as the seasons change: cedar waxwings in the fall, wild turkeys and juncos in the winter and the lawn mower buzz of hummingbirds in the spring. Set it up on display and watch this wonderful book create a new generation of bird watchers.



About the Author:

Cindy Dobrez and Lynn Rutan are Booklist reviewers and middle-school librarians who have chaired both ALA’s Best Books for Young Adults and the Michael L. Printz Award for YA Literature committees. Follow Bookends on Twitter at @BookendsBlog. You can also find Cindy at @cdobrez and Lynn at @482april.

2 Comments on "The Cuckoo's Haiku: and Other Birding Poems by Michael J. Rosen, illus. by Stan Fellows"

Trackback | Comments RSS Feed

  1.' Marinela says:

    This book seems interesting 🙂

  2. I fear I never wrote you both to say, WOW, what a heartfelt and lovely review. Such an honor to have your twin cheers for this book. I’ve been so gratified by the reception it has received. I can only hope to do more and more books like this one. (That said, I know the illustrator is moving his career toward teaching rather than doing more books.) Stay tuned: Spring 2011, Mary Azarian and I are releasing something of a sequel: The Hound Dog’s Haiku and other poems for dog people.” (Or some such title.) All good wishes for a wonderful new year! Michael J. Rosen

Post a Comment