Sunday, May 17, 2009

Haikus and an inside joke

Haikus are pretty cool, if you can understand what they mean. My favorite t-shirt of all time says:

Haikus are easy
But sometimes they don't make sense.

I love the idea of writing haikus and being really, really good at it. Unfortunately, I'm more of a limerick kind of girl. I appreciate the skill that would take to write a whole book of haikus, specifically one just about birds, but it's never something I would undertake. Michael J. Rosen, bird-watcher and poet, wrote The Cuckoo's Haiku and Other Birding Poems as a poetry book for children. I will admit to you right now, I lacked the capacity to truly appreciate it. I thought I could rise above my plebian love of Shel Silverstein, Jack Prelutsky and Roald Dahl, but I can't. I barely skimmed this book, as beautifully illustrated and written as it was. Seriously, the watercolor was astounding. I could rip pages out of this book and frame them for my walls. Maybe years of staring at the haikus would make me appreciate them more.

This next book will only be funny and clever to people who have played in orchestras. So, let's see, that'll be one or two of you readers out there. If you're familiar with music you might still get it. But you might not laugh so hard that you use your big ole belly laugh you reserve for people who know you well and it makes your sides ache and you make a fool of yourself while you sit in front of school waiting for your kindergartner. Not that I know from experience or anything.

Lemony Snicket is once again back writing in his dismally funny way with The Composer is Dead. Snicket is taking another crack at a picture book and once again, I'm happy with the result. What made this book even more fun is the CD included that has his narration along with an orchestral score. The music was so fun and interesting and smart but not so smart that your kids wouldn't enjoy it. The story is that a composer is found dead and the Inspector is sent to question each section of the composer to find the culprit. Snicket perfectly nails the idiosyncracies of an orchestra, down to the second violin section being more fun at parties, the put-upon bitterness of the violas, the arrogance of the brass, the barely concealed need for attention from the conductor, and on and on. I laughed on each page spread and by the end, I was rolling. Even if you're completely non-musical, I think you can enjoy the deadpan humor of Lemony Snicket.


  1. What did he have to say about the flutists? I will have to check this one out. I think I might find it enjoyable. I remember doing haikus in English in 9th grade, and really not getting the point. I was 14, of course, but I haven't been seeking out haiku books to read in my spare time. I may look around for that one, though, just for the pictures.

  2. You've really piqued my interest with the Lemony Snicket book! I love his humor and am curious to see how it translates into picture books. And what a great/strange subject!