Guyku: A Year of Haiku for Boys by Bob Raczka

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Lynn: We choose the books we blog for a variety of reasons.  Sometimes they are of outstanding literary quality or they have solid curricular connections.  Sometimes they are books especially popular with our teens or the focus group and sometimes they are books we just loved reading.  When ALL those qualities come together you’ve got something pretty special and that is the case with Guyku (Houghton 2010).

In his wonderful author’s note, Raczka notes that haiku is perfect for boys.  The form  is about nature which is where boys want to be, haiku are short and are written in the present tense and guys are interested in what is happening right now.  I think he is on to something here!  Raczka divides the book into sections representing the four seasons and his poetry is enchanting.  Hmmm – can you say enchanting about a boy book?  How about funny, true to life, and totally cool?  Peter Reynolds’ illustrations are wonderfully attuned to the poetry and the teamwork adds up to a winner of a book.  Our focus group – total boys by any definition  – love this book.  I’m not a boy but I love it too.  Here is one of our favorites:

If this puddle could

talk, I think it would tell me

to splash my sister.

Cindy: Haikus are a popular form for teachers to use in the classroom and one of my favorite things is to walk past a middle school classroom and see the finger counting going on when a whole class is writing haiku. Not everyone is ready for Basho, though, so Raczka’s collection will be an important addition to elementary and middle school libraries. Shel Silverstein fans will enjoy the pure boy humor here, too.  I like the way the soft color palette changes with the seasons. Librarians out there, have you tried scanning an illustrated poem and emailing it out to your staff to promote a new book? If your classrooms have smart boards or data projectors the teachers can share the poem and illustration with their students. Back in the day I used to make a photocopy and create a transparency for teachers to pass around for their overhead projectors. The times they are a changing. I collect book quotes about snow days and this guyku is a new favorite:

snow-day-haiku001

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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.

8 Comments on "Guyku: A Year of Haiku for Boys by Bob Raczka"

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  1. edspicer@mac.com' Ed Spicer says:

    We travel the year
    Boy-friendly discoveries
    Filled with truth for all

    This is my Haiku annotation of this terrific book. Can’t wait until my first graders begin our Haiku Unit!

    • Ed, I love the haiku review! This book is so much fun and there are so many great classroom uses for it too. Is there anything Bab Raczka can’t do?? We have a blog of his latest art book coming up soon. Can you share some of your student’s haiku? – Lynn

  2. dschakel@macatawa.org' Deb Schakel says:

    After reading this review this AM I talked to my visiting 7 year old grandson and he informed me he knew what syllables were. So we composed this poem about yesterday.

    WINTER GARAGE SALE
    Not another sale!
    Following Grandma inside
    Wow! Pokemon cards!

    Thanks for the reader friendly reviews. I’ve ordered many of the books. As a high school teacher I am now reading The Ghost and the Goth and look forward to sharing Frozen Secrets. I guess it helps that Lynn has two 7 year old grandsons.

  3. I love wintertime.
    Rosy-cheeked snowman building,
    then hot chocolate.

    Thanks Deb and Ed for inspiring us. –Cindy

  4. jacquihiggins@gmail.com' J says:

    While I love this book – I guess I don’t understand why it has to be gendered. These haikus are just as relevant for girls and boys. I guess the reason I am sensitive to this (and I realize I might be oversensitive on this topic) is that, for example, it seems that the snow haiku is for “boys” because it has to do with math/science. That irks me a bit – but just a bit. Otherwise, love the book. Just thought this was worth a quick mention.

  5. J–I understand your reservations. I went with it since Guyku sounds so much better than Galku (Ha!) and although I don’t have the book in front of me now (I returned it to the public library and my ordered copies have not arrived yet), the author explained in the afterward that he was purposely trying to attract boys to poetry, a genre they often ignore. While girls will undoubtedly enjoy this collection too, some of the poems do have decidedly boy-ness inherit in them. It will be an interesting question to ask my students when I start promoting the book.–Cindy

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