Category Archives: children’s picture books
A couple of years ago, I connected with a writer who had a dream. Her mother had written wonderful poetry…Haiku…and she wanted to see it published as a book.
Amy Losak never gave up. That book she hoped for is now a reality! And I’m thrilled to share a bit about the book and the wonderful woman who wrote those amazing words.
H IS FOR HAIKU
Written by Sydell Rosenberg
Illustrated by Sawsan Chalabi
Published by Penny Candy (April 2018)
Themes: Haiku, poetry, everyday happenings
Synopsis: From Amazon:
“In H Is For Haiku: A Treasury of Haiku from A to Z, the late poet Sydell Rosenberg, a charter member of the Haiku Society of America and a New York City public school teacher, and illustrator Sawsan Chalabi offer an A-Z compendium of haiku that brings out the fun and poetry in everyday moments.”
But this short synopsis doesn’t begin to reveal the amazing personality that was Sydell Rosenberg. I was lucky enough to chat with Amy, and she shared a bit more about her wonderful mom.
Syd was a charter member of a vibrant organization that this year celebrates its 50th anniversary: the Haiku Society of America. Mom was among a group of gifted women who, decades ago, contributed to – and I think helped shape — English-language haiku and related forms, such as senryu. She studied, practiced, and wrote these forms for decades, and her work was widely anthologized. Mom “knew her haiku,” but she kept learning over the years, too.
Syd’s haiku – some poems were first published in journals and other outlets decades ago — have a universal, timeless appeal. Haiku are brief; they impel readers to slow down and linger over something they may ordinarily overlook. As I say in my introduction, haiku help make so-called “small moments” in our daily lives big. Haiku is a way to enter with awareness and appreciation into the world around us. I hope both children and the adults in their lives will relate to these evocative “word-pictures,” which capture both nature and human nature in “nuggets.”
ME: Oh my gosh…yes…word pictures. When I saw the illustrations accompanying Syd’s Haiku, I was struck by the thought that these are so perfect for today’s electronic-savvy kids…they are used to sound-bytes and split second pictures flashing by them. Haiku is the perfect vehicle to introduce them to a love of words and poetry.
Syd also was a teacher in New York, as well as a writer (prose such as short stories, and a pulp novel published in the 1950s; word and literary puzzles, more) and poet. She died in 1996, and decades later, I fulfilled her goal of professionally publishing some of her poems as a children’s book. Over time, her dream become mine — ours.
ME: So, right away there was a connection for me because I also taught in the NYC school system and then, when Amy and I spoke, I discovered anothere coincidence… her mom and I both graduated from Brooklyn College…Syd was a couple of years before me. In honor of our connection, I’m going to send a copy of H is for Haiku to one of my blog followers…please leave a comment to be entered into the giveaway.
Among other venues, Syd’s simple but striking poems have been used by Arts For All (arts-for-all.org), a NYC nonprofit arts education group, in two city elementary schools to help teach the basics of collage, drawing and painting; music; and theater. The teaching artists incorporated these visual poems into their lesson plans and used them as teaching tools. The students, mostly second-graders, also wrote their own haiku.
ME: EXACTLY! That’s what I thought as soon as I saw this book! I think every elementary school should have this book on the shelf and use it as a teaching tool.
And here are a few more thoughts from Amy:
- Syd’s commitment to the craft of this lovely poetic form, haiku (“haiku” is both singular and plural) — which captures what I call “nature in nuggets,” as well as amusing facets of human nature (that is, senryu – also both singular and plural) –- spanned several decades. Some of her work for adults was published years ago, in journals, magazines, newspapers, etc.; and in influential books, including the Haiku Anthology and Haiku Handbook. One of her senryu also was featured in an unusual 1994 public art project, Haiku on 42nd Street, in which the marquees of abandoned movie theaters in the Times Square area were transformed into “frames” for the display of micropoetry.
- A school teacher (i.e., English, literacy, and also adult ESL), I think Syd wrote a number of her compact yet evocative poems with children in mind.
- As for myself, I tend to view haiku as poetic mindfulness. By its very brevity, the form encourages us to slow down, linger, and pay attention with all our senses to “small,” “everyday” moments.
- I think that just about any observation or impression can spark a haiku.
- Haiku is also a kind of “eco-literacy”: a way, through “word-pictures,” to cultivate an appreciation for our surroundings.
- I have heard and read haiku described as “one-breath poetry.”
WOW! Thank you so much, Amy. I know everyone is applauding both your mother who wrote these amazing haiku and you who persevered and followed your dream of seeing her work published.
And, dear friends, don’t forget to leave a comment for a chance to win a copy of this wonderful book.
Have a wonderful week. I’ll be flying to see family in Chicago on Thursday…but I’ve already scheduled the Friday and Saturday posts when the fabulous Chris Mihaly and her awesome book, HEY, HEY, HAY! will be in the PPBF and WWFC spotlight.
Today is Perfect Picture Book Friday where I link up with Susanna Leonard Hill’s fantastic group of picture book writers, illustrators, librarians and others who contribute a picture book review.
The holiday season is upon us…I know that many bloggers have been reviewing holiday-themed books. Here’s one that looks like a Christmas-type book, but what it celebrates is a child who learns to speak up for herself and overcome her fears. This ties in with Universal Children’s Day which was started by the United Nations almost 60 years ago this week. Millions of children all over the world lack the basic rights they are entitled to…nourishing food, clean water, an education, a safe environment in which to grow up in and parents who believe in them and are able to provide these things.
Sofia and the Heartmender
Written and illustrated by Marie Olofsdotter
Publisher: Free Spirit Publishing (reprinted 2007…original edition 1995)
Ages: 5 and up
Speaking up for oneself, self-esteem, overcoming fears, respecting onself, creative expression, night terrors, parental support.
From Amazon and Book Review:
”Sofia’s heart is broken in two when adults refuse to take her fears seriously. Parents and teacher alike trivialize the shadow monsters that follow her, but a wise dog guides her through a magical world where she meets the Heartmender. During the journey, Sofia confronts her fears, which then disappear, and the Heartmender heals Sofia’s heart with moonlight. Back in the real world, stronger with renewed self-esteem and confidence, Sofia makes her feelings known to the adults and asks that they be respected. Olofsdotter has created a rich and inspiring story by carefully crafting a dynamic between text and illustrations. Richly colored and exquisitely detailed, the illustrations add information and evoke the mythical time and space where the wounded self is healed. A book to be enjoyed at various levels by young and older children alike.”
Why do I like this book:
I love the message in this story…a child learns to overcome her fears and speak up for herself, gaining a positive self-image. This is a story about a strong capable young girl and would be a wonderful book to help parents understand how important it is to listen to their children and take what they say seriously. It also points out that teachers often expect children to ‘color within the lines’…instead of encouraging creative expression in every child. I also love the illustrations and ethnicity of the characters…from the look of the main characters and the surroundings, I get the feeling that the story is placed in Mexico or South America.
HEARTMENDER ORNAMENT #1
If you are looking for a VERY easy heartmender ornament, try this one.
Photo courtesy: http://www.apples4theteacher.com
You will need: 1 piece of red construction paper, 1 piece of red tissue paper, several cotton balls, glue, scissors, piece of ribbon, hole puncher.
- Cut the red construction paper into a heart shape.
- Pull the cotton balls apart and glue pieces around the heart edge.
- Tear the tissue paper into small pieces. Crumbple each piece and glue inside the heart shape.
- Punch a hole in the top middle and thread the ribbon through so the heart can be hung up. Make sure you put your child’s name and the date on the back of the ornament…in later years you will look back and remember when it was made.
HEARTMENDER ORNAMENT #2
If you want a heartmender ornament that is a little more complicated, please visit: http://www.craftideas.info/html/swedish_paper_heart.html
You will find materials needed and a video tutorial.
Photo and instructions courtesy: www.craftideas.info
HOLIDAY GIFT IDEA
Young children don’t need fancy electronic gadgets…they only need a good picture book, a few simple inexpensive art supplies (like paper, crayons or markers, safety scissors and glue stick) and your positive participation. If you are looking for a great resource that will give you 100 picture book summaries and easy matching craft (like the diorama above) and cooking activities, you can purchase a copy on Amazon of Show Me How! Build Your Child’s Self-Esteem Through Reading, Crafting and Cooking. At $24.95, this book makes a PERFECT gift for any parent or teacher of children ages 2-8…as well as for daycare providers and grandparents. No batteries required…powered by a child’s imagination! Buy your copy today! My website is still offering free shipping AND a beautiful hand-crafted fabric bookmark…limited time only! Offer ends December 30th!