Thursday, October 27, 2011
The Hound Dog's Haiku, written by Michael J. Rosen and illustrated by Mary Azarian. Candlewick, Random House. 2011. $20.00 ages 5 and up
above your fixed gaze
a Milky Way of cows move -
I chose border collie to start this post for Secia, my brother's dog. She is at his side constantly and very protective of both he and Kathy. I would have liked to share a haiku about a bulldog for my two granddogs, Percy and Eddie. Oh, well...maybe next book!
His last book of haiku concerned birds (The Cuckoo's Haiku, Candlewick, 2009) and I have used it in all of my poetry workshops since first reading it. Now, I have an equally enjoyable addition for my list. It will likely be more popular, given how children feel about dogs. You can imagine how carefully words must be chosen to create little gems like these for children to read. Only seventeen syllables to give us a image that respects the fundamental nature of the canine being considered.
fills your ribs' parentheses
you keep scent's secret
Ribs' parentheses...really? How does one even come up with such an image? How impeccably it describes the bloodhound. I am impressed! Mary Azarian provides the perfect picture for that parenthetical concept in her woodcut art, as she does for every other entry. Each image adds life and movement, no matter the dog's mood or position. They may be dozing, welcoming, jumping, chasing, or keeping watch. She manages to find their own individual personality and bring it to the reader.
To add to the allure of this brilliant book, Michael Rosen concludes it with a section called “Notes for Dog Lovers and Fans of Haiku”. In it he says of the border collie:
"Border collies live to work: moving herds of cattle from barn to pasture, protecting and tracking each cow and calf. In this poem, the cows are the stars that the border collie gazes at through the powerful "telescope" of its instincts. And the fact that the cows give milk makes "Milky Way" a bit of a pun."
So much to learn here. It will have its readers poring over each page for long periods of time, and going from front to back to assimilate the information that is there for them.
Are you thinking of Christmas gifts yet? Do you have a dog-loving child in the family or among friends? I'm just saying....