poetry friday

Myra here.

Two weeks ago, we launched our reading theme this January-February: Once Upon A Childhood: Throwback Reading and Hot For Cybils!

Aside from walking down nostalgic book lane (retro reading), we are also giving much-deserved love to CYBILS nominees/finalists/winners for 2014 and earlier. Special thanks to the beautiful Irene Latham of Live Your Poem for hosting this week.

Widget courtesy of the talented Iphigene.
Widget courtesy of the talented Iphigene.


Hi, Koo! A Year of Seasons has been shortlisted for the CYBILS Poetry Award for 2014. I’ve read so many great reviews about this book over the past year, that I feel I am late for the haiku party.

I think I confessed awhile back that as enamoured as I am with poetry, I am largely unfamiliar (and undisciplined) when it comes to structure and form, regulated syllables and lines. I do appreciate though the regimented way in which beauty emerges from much lashing and whipping and scraping at the sides until only the barest essentials could be seen gleaming in stanzas and lines.

Clearly, Jon J Muth is a poet after my own heart. While he undoubtedly excels in the craft, he is also able to tear it down, creating something raw and exquisite as he taps into the very essence of what a haiku is. In the Author’s Note he explained that he eschewed the usual five-seven-five pattern commonly expected from haiku:

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.

I know a lot of young avid readers who are totally turned off by poetry primarily because of its rigidity and the way that it is introduced in most classrooms: there is too much form, rhyme, meter and too little eye towards imagery, essence, spirit.

In Hi, Koo! Muth invites the reader to play along with him, to twist the lines around and just get down and dirty with them, sling mud, ruffle feathers, and stomp on windswept words as the adorable Koo ambles along a year of seasons. Here are my favourites from the book which I wanted to share with you Poetry Friday friends.


I included this one specifically because of the absolute disregard for syllabication – and the way the words are broken down across the three lines. But see that last line: “the wind’s surprise” is enough to make one gasp with beauty along with that gorgeous image of Koo.


And because I am a child of eternal summer, I see “…blinking stars/ fireflies”. See how Koo looks up at the reader looking down at him? The play in his shadows? This book is dedicated to Muth’s twins Molly and Leo – and so we can put one and two together here. 🙂


Is there anything more beautiful than that today, dear friends?

Go outside. Find an audience of sparrows. Read.

Hi, Koo! A Year Of Seasons by Jon J Muth. Published by Scholastic Press, 2014. Book borrowed from the public library. Book photos taken by me.


Hi, Koo! A Year Of Seasons shortlisted for CYBILS Poetry Award 2014.

#AWBRead2015 Update: 4 of 35

Myra is a Teacher Educator and a registered clinical psychologist based in Al Ain, United Arab Emirates. Prior to moving to the Middle East, she lived for eleven years in Singapore serving as a teacher educator. She has edited five books on rediscovering children’s literature in Asia (with a focus on the Philippines, Malaysia, India, China, Japan) as part of the proceedings for the Asian Festival of Children’s Content where she served as the Chair of the Programme Committee for the Asian Children’s Writers and Illustrators Conference from 2011 until 2019. While she is an academic by day, she is a closet poet and a book hunter at heart. When she is not reading or writing about books or planning her next reads, she is hoping desperately to smash that shuttlecock to smithereens because Badminton Is Life (still looking for badminton courts here at UAE - suggestions are most welcome).

9 comments on “[Poetry Friday] Muth’s Koo

  1. The fact that this is an alphabet book in addition to beautifully written haiku won my heart over too. This is a wonderful book to spend time with.


  2. To answer your question, I don’t think there will be anything more beautiful than that today! I like how the playful panda on the cover draws you in, and then the fresh imagery and subtle surprises delight you.


  3. I love Jon Muth, and I was so charmed by Hi Koo! We are getting to haiku with my third graders soon, and I cannot wait to share this lovely book.


  4. Love that panda looking up at me. 🙂 I’ve seen a couple of Muth’s other books and love them, but haven’t seen this one yet. Thanks for the little peek. Lovely poems!


  5. Irene Latham

    Ha, I love “Hot for Cybils.” 🙂 Such a charmer, Koo! It’s a beautiful book. Love the pages you share here. Looking forward to reading more of your AWB adventures. xo


  6. Just got my CYBILS copy the other day…looking forward to reading it!


  7. Kelly Ramsdell Fineman

    I really enjoyed reading this book, and was glad it made our CYBILS shortlist (I was a first-round panelist). Despite more than one person saying it’s an alphabet book, I have a hard time seeing it that way – isn’t that funny? LOVE that Muth used advanced haiku technique and not just 5-7-5 in writing his book.


  8. maryleehahn

    How fun to find more haiku here (also at Today’s Little Ditty)! I’m anxious to try writing haiku without the 5-7-5 constraint!


  9. Not only is this book full of thought, beauty, and sweetness, but I LOVE that it will be used to introduce non 5-7-5 haiku into the classroom. While I don’t have a problem with 5-7-5 haiku, I do think that children should understand that there’s more to haiku’s essence than counting syllables.


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