cover image Tap Dancing on the Roof: Sijo (Poems)

Tap Dancing on the Roof: Sijo (Poems)

Linda Sue Park, , illus. by Istvan Banyai. . Clarion, $16 (48pp) ISBN 978-0-618-23483-7

Similar to the Japanese haiku, the Korean sijo packs image, metaphor and surprise into three long (or six short) lines with a fixed number of syllables: “Lightning jerks the sky awake to take her photograph, flash!/ Which draws grumbling complaints or even crashing tantrums from thunder—/ He hates having his picture taken, so he always gets there late.” Newbery Medalist Park’s (A Single Shard ) sijo skip lightly from breakfast (“warm, soft, and delicious—a few extra minutes in bed”) to bedtime (about bathing: “From a tiled cocoon, a butterfly with terry-cloth wings”), with excursions to the backyard, the classroom, and the beach (“Are all the perfect sand dollars locked away somewhere—in sand banks?”). The sijo’s contours are clean and spare, qualities echoed in the blue-gray, black and white architecture and crisp shadows of Banyai’s (Zoom ) digital illustrations. In the spirit of Park’s experiments with this verse form, Banyai’s miniature children bounce through a series of imaginative leaps unencumbered by the rules of the real world. They sleep in teacups, grow wings and fly among the flowers, snip mathematical equations to bits with gigantic pairs of scissors, and wreak havoc with bottles of ink. Park wants readers to try sijo for themselves, and in an extensive author’s note she offers history, advice and encouragement; her own sijo and Banyai’s cheeky images will supply the motivation. Ages 9-12. (Oct.)