cover image Basho and the Fox

Basho and the Fox

Tim Myers. Marshall Cavendish Children's Books, $15.95 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-7614-5068-9

In this imaginative, tightly woven tale starring Basho (the 17th-century Japanese poet), Myers cleverly places the renowned poet's own words at its heart. When Basho discovers a kimono-clad fox feasting on the fruit of his favorite cherry tree, he attempts to chase away the animal, who holds his ground. The seemingly sly fox strikes a deal with Basho: he and his fellow foxes will allow the poet to have the tree's entire yield only if he can write ""one good haiku"" (they grant him three chances). The poet's first two attempts don't cut it (ironically, the second is Basho's most celebrated haiku: ""An old pond. A frog jumps in. The sound of water""). The third, written impulsively as the deadline draws near, satisfies the vain creature because the poem mentions a fox. Delivered with a light touch, in a lyrical narrative befitting its poetic hero, Myers's cunning caper offers a sage lesson: ""From that day forward, Basho understood that a poem should be written for its own sake."" Han's (Kongi and Potgi) elegant, expressive watercolors capture the changing seasons and the setting's natural beauty as gracefully as classic Japanese silkscreen. Ages 5-8. (Sept.)