Reviews for Guyku : A Year of Haiku for Boys

Booklist Reviews 2010 June #1
Nonrhyming poetry can be a tough sell for kids. For some, though, haiku is less intimidating, thanks to its brevity and reliance on rigid rules--and intimidating is one thing this book is not. Dispersed across all four seasons, each haiku depicts a boy (or boys) goofing off in nature. As Raczka explains in the afterword, "Nature is a place where guys love to be." Whether or not this is altogether true, he sure makes it look fun: boys climb trees, have icicle fights, trap grasshoppers, and even gaze wistfully at stars. Reynolds' winsome, small-scale cartoons use a single hue for each season: green (spring), yellow (summer), brown (fall), and blue (winter), while Raczka provides the 17-syllable high jinks: "Two splotches of white / on a black tree trunk. I aim / my next pitch--strike three!" A stone-skipping lad opens up the door for onomatopoetic words, too: "Skip, skip, skip, skip, plunk! / Five ripple rings in a row-- / my best throw ever!" A bit halcyon, perhaps, but easy and fun to read--and that's an accomplishment. Copyright 2010 Booklist Reviews.

Horn Book Guide Reviews 2011 Spring
Focusing on nature and seasons, each of Raczka's twenty-four haiku captures with amazing economy specific moments of a boy's life. Reynolds depicts the characters' glee and energy as well as natural elements in just a few deft lines. The pages are clean white, the book's shape is small and square, and each poem is accompanied by a delicate and funny two-color illustration. Copyright 2010 Horn Book Guide Reviews.

Horn Book Magazine Reviews 2010 #6
Haiku seems like a particularly appeal-ing form of poetry for guys, because it represents a challenge: make the syllables fit the five/seven/five form. Raczka retains the classical requirements of haiku, with a focus on nature and the seasons, and writes a series of six poems per season. Each of the twenty-four haiku captures with amazing economy the specific moments of a boy's life, beginning with spring: "The wind and I play / tug-of-war with my new kite. / The wind is winning." In fall, it's time to rake the leaves: "From underneath the / leaf pile, my invisible / brother is giggling." Illustrator Reynolds depicts the glee and energy of the boy characters as well as natural elements, such as a puddle with a reflection, in just a few deft lines. The pages are clean white, the book's shape is small and square, and each poem is handwritten, accompanied by a delicate and funny two-color illustration. Raczka and Reynolds are a winning team, and the results will start many boy (and girl) readers thinking about turning their own experience into a seventeen-syllable poem. susan dove lempke Copyright 2010 Horn Book Magazine Reviews.

Publishers Weekly Reviews 2010 September #3

In creating this nostalgic collection of haiku, Raczka (Summer Wonders) cites the form's brevity and its emphasis on nature and the present as reasons why it's "a wonderful form of poetry for guys like us." Categorized (as haiku traditionally are) by season and progressing through the year, his "guyku" poems celebrate the mud of spring, the campfires of summer ("With the ember end/ of my long marshmallow stick,/ I draw on the dark"), the transformation of fall, and the joys of winter, with plenty of giggling thrown in--"Penny on the rail,/ You used to look like Lincoln/ before you got smooshed." Reynolds (The Dot) provides an expressively drawn vignette for each haiku in muted tones of mossy green, sepia, and watery blue. This is childhood as adults remember it, or want to remember it: no flat-screen TVs, no computers, no cars or cellphones. Whether children will recognize their own lives in these wistful visions is not clear, but they will certainly appreciate Raczka's humor: "If this puddle could/ talk, I think it would tell me/ to splash my sister." Ages 3-7. (Oct.)

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School Library Journal Reviews 2010 September

K-Gr 3--Haiku seems like a terrific way to introduce boys to poetry; it's deceptive in its simplicity and accessible to almost any reader. The poems in this picture-book collection capture natural moments that boys, and many girls, have while playing outdoors. Each season is addressed, and moments like riding bikes in the spring with baseball cards attached to the wheels to mimic the sound of a motorcycle almost define spring. In summer, Reynolds's illustration shows a mischievous boy with an obvious dilemma. "Pine tree invites me/to climb up to the sky./How can I refuse?" The artwork and the text dovetail beautifully and help set the inquisitive and playful intent of the poems. Fall finds two boys smacking cattails against a park bench and creating a snowstorm of airborne seeds. In winter, it's boys doing what they do best--throwing snowballs and sword fighting with icicles. This wonderful collection will resonate with all children as they recognize their earnest and sometimes misdirected antics in each poem. The pen, ink, and watercolor illustrations mirror the simplicity of each entry and capture the expressions of the boys and their adventures honestly. This is haiku at its most fun. All libraries should grab it for their collections.--Joan Kindig, James Madison University, Harrisonburg, VA

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