The Cuckoo’s Haiku
written by Michael J. Rosen
illus. by Stan Fellows
Candlewick Press, 2009
Hardcover, 978-0-7636-30492

I’ve never been much of a birder; I just didn’t ‘get’ it. But over the last year my interest has sparked, probably because our traveling has meant I’ve seen many more types of birds, and now I just notice them more. This week I’ve seen my first red-winged blackbird, orchard oriole and rose-breasted grosbeak. If I had read books like The Cuckoo’s Haiku: and other birding poems, maybe my enthusiasm about bird-watching would have taken at an earlier age. I first saw Fellow’s art in Kathryn Lasky’s John Muir: America’s First Environmentalist, and I turned those pages over and over. What I like about his art here is how free and fluid the watercolors are, as if you’re viewing a sketchbook. Alongside the illustrations are notes about the birds and their habitat, written in script and so adding to the field book feeling. The book feeld good in your hands — not too small, not too large. Twenty-four birds in all are profiled, arranged by season, and all are common to the author’s home in central Ohio. One of my favorites (for sentimental reasons) is about the crow.

American Crow

blooming apple tree
Round and white as one peeled fruit
Crow-seed at its core

The illustration of white lacy blossoms covering the branches where crows perch, angled one on top of each other, is a lovely image for the spare words. The love and respect for nature of both the artist and the poet is clearly evident.

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