Monday, January 2, 2012

Won Ton

Booklist starred (February 1, 2011 (Vol. 107, No. 11))

Grades K-3. Although the subtitle says haiku, as Wardlaw explains in her opening author’s note, the poems that make up this picture-book celebration of the child-pet bond are actually written in similarly structured senryu, a form that focuses on personality and behavior instead of on the natural world, as haiku does. Here the central personality belongs to a feisty shelter cat who has never known cozy domestic life: “Nice place they got here. / Bed. Bowl. Blankie. Just like home. / Or so I’ve been told.” Then a boy arrives, scoops the cat from his cage, brings him home, and names him Won Ton (“How can I / be soup? Some day, I’ll tell you / my real name. Maybe”). Both the tightly constructed lines and elegant, playful illustrations unerringly imagine a cat’s world, including the characteristic feline seesaw between aloof independence and purring, kneading adoration. Like Bob Raczka’s Guyku (2010), this title shows that poetry can be fun, free, and immediate, even as it follows traditional structure; “The Car Ride,” for example, reads, “Letmeoutletme / outletmeoutletmeout. / Wait—let me back in!” Yelchin’s expressive graphite-and-gouache artwork nods to the poetic form’s roots with echoes of Japanese woodblock prints and creates a lovable, believable character in this wry, heartwarming title that’s sure to find wide acceptance in the classroom and beyond.

No comments: