Wednesday, April 08, 2015

NPM Project: Jumping Into Form - Animal Haiku

When I was planning this project I realized I had more haiku books than I knew what to do with. Therefore, I decided to include a thematic post highlighting this form. Today I turn my attention to haiku that focus on animals.

Let's start today with three books by Michael J. Rosen.
The Hound Dog's Haiku: and Other Poems for Dog Lovers (2011), written by Michael J. Rosen and illustrated by Mary Azarian, introduces readers to 20 breeds of dog from bluetick coonhound to dachshund. Back matter includes information about the breeds. Here are two of my favorites from this collection.

Labrador Retriever
     the first duck splash-lands
     speck in the iced pond's lone eye
     soon . . . the chase restarts

     staccato sniffing
     fills your ribs' parentheses
     you keep scent's secret

The Maine Coon's Haiku: And Other Poems for Cat Lovers (2015), written by Michael J. Rosen and illustrated by Lee Anthony White, is a collection of 20 poems on a variety of cat breeds. Broken into alternating sections of "Inside" and "Outside," the cats are introduced with five breeds in each of the four sections. Back matter includes descriptions of each breed of cat. Here are two of my favorites.

Maine Coon
     crouched before the couch,
     suddenly, cat has all night
     for just one sound: mouse

     a toppled lamp shade
     moon moth must be here somewhere
     batted from the dark
The Cuckoo's Haiku: and Other Birding Poems (2009), written by Michael J. Rosen and illustrated by Stan Fellows, is a collection organized by season, beginning with spring. The spare form works well in these poems, highlighting each of the 24 bird species in delightful ways. The illustrations are elegant and nicely complement the text. Each double-page spread reads like a birder's journal, with notes scribbled on the pages. Here are two of my favorite poems. (Please note that the poems in the book are not titled. I have highlighted them this way only as a means of organization.)

Spring - Eastern Bluebird
     on a staff of wires
     blue notes inked from April skies
     truly, spring's first song

Summer - Northern Mockingbird
     the one-man bird band:
     diva, choir, and orchestra
     unbroken record

Poems ©Michael Rosen. All rights reserved.

The back matter for the book contains a section entitled Notes for Bird Watchers and Haiku Lovers. 
If Not For the Cat (2004), written by Jack Prelutsky and illustrated by Ted Rand, is a collection of 17 haiku that encourage readers to see animals in new ways. Without sharing the illustrations these can be read as "Who am I?" poems. Can you guess which animals are described in these two poems?

If not for the cat,
And the scarcity of cheese,
I could be content.

How foolish I am.
Why am I drawn to the flame
Which extinguishes?

Poems ©Jack Prelutsky. All rights reserved.

You can see examples of the artwork and view additional poems in this preview.

I hope you've enjoyed another day of haiku. Tomorrow I will wrap up this form with some additional books and resources for teaching students about haiku.


  1. Thank you, Tricia, for sharing these titles. Our fifth grade students have been having fun writing haiku, and these will be great inspiration for them.

  2. Thanks so much for these haiku posts. I haven't read the first two books before.

  3. I love Haiku and I've not read these. Thx for the interesting post!