cover image In the Eyes of the Cat: Japanese Poetry for All Seasons

In the Eyes of the Cat: Japanese Poetry for All Seasons

Demi. Henry Holt & Company, $15.95 (80pp) ISBN 978-0-8050-1955-1

``In the eyes of the cat,'' the haiku explains, one can observe the sea's color ``on a sunny day / in winter.'' Thus young readers are introduced to the delicate complexities of Japanese nature poetry. Compressed and imagistic, the 77 adaptations of traditional poems leave the impression of startling quiet. Arranged according to season, the verses interact to achieve a shifting tone. The translation is appropriately spare--``The sun is setting / On the tail / Of the copper pheasant''--and sometimes, serendipitously, the text rhymes--``How visibly / The gentle morning airs / Stir in the caterpillar's / Silky hairs.'' The horizontal format of the small book allows room for a verse and illustrations on each page. The paintings' strength lies in their rich contrasts of color, such as the opulent red poppy against an ultramarine sky. Demi, whose most recent book was Chingis Khan , incorporates elements of classical Japanese painting in her work, which abounds with finely crafted figures of puppies, cats and monkeys, surrounded by pools of negative space. Ages 6-8. (Apr.)