cover image DON'T STEP ON THE SKY: A Handful of Haiku

DON'T STEP ON THE SKY: A Handful of Haiku

Miriam Chaikin, , illus. by Hiroe Nakata. . Holt, $16.95 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-8050-6474-2

This small-format collection of poetry "in the haiku tradition" wanders slowly through a tranquil world, sensing the living pulse of creation in the singing of birds ("I hear/ their happiness,/ but…/ where are they?"), the night sky ("The moon strolls by my window,/ looks in looks in/ moves on"), even a cat sitting in the window ("How like an eggplant!"). Chaikin (I Should Worry, I Should Care) moves easily between whimsy ("Duck glides across pond—/ water doesn't notice") and wistfulness ("Lovely lily/ alive for only a day./ Take good care of yourself"), and Nakata's (Lucky Pennies and Hot Chocolate) watercolors accommodate both. Through the pages, a girl in overalls and her cat go exploring, blissfully alone in meadows of wildflowers and cityscapes dotted with rows of street lamps. The flattened perspectives and not-quite-straight lines make Nakata's illustrations as comfortable as old toys; close-ups and wide-angle spreads alternate in refreshing succession. On the final page, the girl and her cat, kneeling at the edge of a pool, reach out to touch their reflections in the water, smiling at the clouds drifting across its surface. "After the rain/ a puddle./ Careful./ Don't step on the sky." Ages 3-8. (Apr.)