Quote of the Month

When love and skill work together, expect a miracle. John Ruskin

Tuesday, April 16, 2013


It can be seen on billboards along the roads and highways.  It can be scripted in the sky by an airplane.  It can be printed on a note tucked into a brown-paper-bag lunch.  It can be whispered to you when you least expect it; a hand squeeze, a stolen glance or the wet-lick kiss of a dog say it too.  There are more ways than can be counted or remembered for conveying affection.

Dating back to the end of the nineteenth century, consisting of only seventeen syllables, the poetic form haiku can express varied but specific meanings with a few carefully chosen words.  Author/illustrator Betsy Snyder's I Haiku You (Random House Children's Books, December 2012) is an uplifting celebration of all kinds of love as seen through the eyes of children.

No matter the season or time of day these twenty poems will give you a glimpse of the childlike appreciation for the simplest and grandest things encountered.  Recall memorable moments.  Tuck away new ones to notice.

With the young at heart bird song is nature's alarm clock, snow angels bind together buddies and alphabet soup spells pure comfort for someone not feeling well.  Even on a gray day color can be found if you know where to look.  Butterflies will take flight and land on the inside and on the outside.

Four-leaf clovers, bicycles, teddy bears and a purple popsicle (or two) hold special significance.  Budding gardeners in springtime, youthful entrepreneurs on a summer's day or campfire chefs in the crisp fall evenings all cherish these best of times. A canine companion watches a school bus leave feeling one way and on it's return his human shares the upside of that same feeling.

Children have a way of looking at their world and the people in it as if they are cameras missing nothing, noticing the tiniest details.  Betsy Snyder has captured their sense of wonder and observation in each of these poems through her focus on the ordinary elevating it to extraordinary; knowing its all the little things added together which makes a delightful whole.   The language of their everyday world, alarm clock, valentines, rainbow, boo-boos, twinkle and snuggles, welcome readers into these cheerful, concise verses.

 The creamy background on the matching jacket and cover is used throughout the book on paper with a matte finish providing a warmer frame for her charming illustrations. Her opening and closing endpapers are a watercolor wash of the shades of red readers see on every page.  Each picture is as separate as the poems but tied together with the softened, full color palette and the small details.

The cardinal singing on the first page appears in the distance on top of a pine tree on the next page.  A butterfly drawn by a child on one page is shown flying with another on the following page.  A teddy bear being carried in the basket on a bicycle (paws raised to cover its eyes) is covered with band-aids when we readers see him next.

Her round-faced characters are full of animation and expression; delivering joy at every turn of page.  Most of the poems are given a single page with a picture but five have illustrations spread edge to edge across both pages; still inviting, still embracing the reader.  My favorite illustration is on the last two pages.   Two children are in bed under the covers facing toward the foot holding a flashlight reading.  Tiny animal slippers are beside the bed, chocolate chip cookies (and crumbs) are on the bed.  Further out in the room the dog featured in several poems is curled up on his bed with the teddy bear now clad in one-piece red pajamas next to him.  Over the dog's body is an opened copy of I Haiku You.  

Certainly this book is perfect for National Poetry Month or Valentine's Day but I vote to use I Haiku You written and illustrated by Betsy Snyder when we need to step back, pause and appreciate the joys of life; when we want to celebrate children and their love of simple things.

Please follow the links embedded above in Betsy Snyder's names to her website and blog.  Betsy Snyder was showcased in the first trifecta of 2013 at Watch. Connect. Read., sharpread and the Nerdy Book Club.  All the posts give further insights into the creation of this title.  At this link Snyder gives hints on writing haiku for children.  For a more detailed explanation on the writing and illustration process she used follow this link.

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