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Friday, March 28, 2014

Hi, Koo!: A Year of Seasons. Presented by Koo and Jon J Muth. Scholastic, 2014. $19.99 ages 4 and up

"shadows getting Long
snowfall flutters around
the outside lamps

Morning crocuses!
winter is old now
and closes her doors"

I accept that everything created by Jon Muth is sure to dazzle...all you need to do is look at his body of work. It totally impresses, and continues to do so with this newest book that includes the enchanting panda Koo.

He explains his choice of form before we read the first entry:

"For me, haiku is like an instant captured in words - using sensory images. At its best, a haiku embodies a moment of emotion that reminds us that our own human nature is not separate from all of nature."

It is poetry; it is seasonal; and, it is beautifully designed as a celebration. We see Koo in front matter, daintily licking the top of a double scoop, sprinkle-infused ice cream cone, and then moving on to somersault himself up a grassy hill. He is ready to guide us through the seasons, beginning in the fall. Koo endures the falling leaves, the endless raking, the blustery wind, the cold rain. Warm soup and equally warm cookies help. When friends arrive to invite him out for snowy fun, Koo wonders at winter's many surprises:

reach down with dripping fingers
will they touch the ground?"

And so we venture through spring and finally, summer.

A cool surprise is that the author manages to include a nod to the alphabet, capitalizing one word in each deftly written phrase. The truly gorgeous watercolors are set on plenty of white space which allows a child's attention to focus on the small pleasures that they constantly find in the world of nature.

The illustrations tempt our senses, while also making us smile and take time to bask in the quiet beauty that surrounds us. Don't miss the squared-eyed, blank stares that result from too much TV watching during a long, cold winter. Then, feel the warmth of a spring morning as two gentle children read to and feed a small flock of robins.

Absolutely beautiful!


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