Won Ton: A Cat Tale Told in Haiku, by Lee Wardlaw, Illustrated by Eugene Yelchin. Henry Holt, 2011 (978-0-8050-8995-0) According to the author's note, Won Ton's story is told in a series of senryu, which is like haiku in structure, but instead of focusing on nature, it focuses on character--in this case, a cat's character. Through the senryus, we follow a shelter cat home with his adoptive family:
The Car Ride
Wait--let me back in!
We learn about his naming, his adjustment to the house and family, and his very cat-like nature:
Sorry about the
squishy in your shoe. Must've
been something I ate.
I explained it loud
and clear. What part of "meow"
don't you understand?
These poems, and many others, give us a real sense of the cat and his relationship with the humans and the house he lives in. The illustrations are delightful, rounding out the character of this inimitable cat.
Lemonade and Other Poems Squeezed from a Single Word, by Bob Raczka, Illustrated by Nancy Doniger. Roaring Brook Press, 2011 (978-1-59643-541-4) This is a series of poems that are almost like puzzles. Each poem is made from the letters of a single word. The word acts as the title, and the poem is an attempt to describe the essence of the word. Most of the poems are complicated, and take a few tries to read, with letters in odd places. A translation (without the odd letter placement) is on the backside of each poem in case you just can't get it. Spare illustrations give additional clues.
I found the puzzle aspect of this to be irritating for the first few poems, till I got into the swing of it--then I got engrossed! The other day I caught my 14-year-old grinning at the breakfast table (not a normal sight on a school day, I'll have you know) while she puzzled some of them out.
Trying to include a version of the poems with their spacing makes the formatting of this entire blog post freak out, so I'm skipping that for today, but trust me, this is worth a peek. I think it could inspire quite a bit of writing!