Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Hi, Koo!

 Booklist (December 15, 2013 (Vol. 110, No. 8))

Preschool-Grade 3. First introduced in Zen Ties (2008) as Stillwater the panda’s nephew, Koo is alone in the narrative world of this verse collection, until a boy and girl from the neighborhood knock on his door. They share good times throughout the seasons, whether throwing snowballs, reading aloud to sparrows, or skipping stones. And sometimes Koo enjoys reflective moments alone, “becoming so quiet / Zero sound / only breath.” These very short poems, ranging from fresh to poignant to prosaic, are enhanced by the beautiful watercolor-and-ink illustrations on every page. Reflecting the brevity and imagery of the verse, the spare fall and winter pictures seem particularly fine, while their relative simplicity contrasts effectively with the profusion of color in the spring and summer scenes. Besides pointing out the subtle trail of alphabetically arranged capital letters in each poem throughout the book, the author’s note expresses Muth’s rationale for not restricting himself to “the five-seven-five syllable pattern that many of us grew up learning haiku must be.” Haiku or not, this collection is worth reading.

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