Archive for All Welcome Here

Recommended: Three Haiku Books for Young Readers

I’ve written about my own haiku journey of late, how the past few years have seen me writing increasingly in that short form. The deeper I get into it, the more I learn — but also, the more I realize I have yet to learn. It’s a deep, deep well and I love diving into it.

In children’s books, which is my home as an author, there’s a great many haiku collections available. I’ve read a great number of them recently and wanted to highlight a few that I felt were particularly worthy of your attention. My apologies if I’ve overlooked some worthy additions; I didn’t try to be comprehensive. Feel free to leave a comment if you’d like to mention one of your favorites.

 

ONE LEAF RIDES THE WIND

by Celeste Davidson Mannis

illustrated by Susan Kathleen Hartung

 

This book is essential for anyone who wishes to explore the origins, depth, and sensibility of the haiku. Written in a conventional 5-7-5 format, the haiku here are easy to read and accessible, while showing a far deeper sophistication and appreciation of nature than most children’s haiku collections. The poems are set in a Japanese garden and do much to honor the origins of this beautiful art form. “Just as each element of a Japanese garden contributes to a calming, satisfying whole, the elements of this work . . . all meld together into a lovely whole that both entertains and educates.” — Kirkus Reviews.

One leaf rides the wind.

Quick as I am, it’s quicker!

Just beyond my grasp. 

 

 

COOL MELONS — TURN TO FROGS!

The Life and Poems of Issa

by Matthew Gollus

illustrated by Kazuko G. Stone

 

This book is a marvel, and a magnificient next step for any young reader wishing to learn more about haiku. Matthew Gollub masterfully blends a picture book biography on the Japanese haiku poet, Issa, juxtaposed alongside side a number of Issa’s own poems, translated by Gollub. Here we gain an insight into the sense and sensibility of a haiku poet. The illustrations deserve special mention for they convey the culture and lyricism of traditional Japanese artwork. Gollub demonstrates a rock-solid knowledge of the haiku and its history. His translations, like most these days, do not adhere to the conventional 5-7-5 syllable scheme.

A withered tree

blooms once again —

butterflies holding fast.

 

GUYKU

A Year of Haiku for Boys

by Bob Raczka

illustrated by Peter H. Reynolds

 

This third book is not at all like the others. For starters, this 2010 collection hinges on a dubious conceit, that the haiku here is “for boys.” Whatever that means. Moreover, the haiku here are senryo (SEN-ree-yoo), a poem that is structurally similar to haiku, that highlights the foibles of human nature, usually in a humorous way. A more formal haiku is almost always written in the present tense, focuses strictly on nature, contains a kigo or seasonal word, and includes a pause or grammatical break (often between lines 2 and 3). As always, Peter Reynolds’ illustrations are warm and inviting; and Raczka writes with wit and whimsy and lightness, completely winning me over by the end of the book. It pairs nicely with the above titles.

Lying on the lawn,

we study the blackboard sky,

connecting the dots.

James Preller is the author of All Welcome Here,  a book of linked haiku that celebrates the diversity, kindness and community of the open classroom. It is written in traditional 5-7-5 format, mostly in senryu, and illustrated by Caldecott Honor-winning Mary GrandPre. 

 

 

“Caldecott Honoree Grandpré captures the day’s variable moods in pictures of absorbed, interacting kids of various skin tones and abilities. … a cheery take on the joys of camaraderie.”Publishers Weekly

Lively haiku pairs with vibrant art to showcase various facets of the first day of school. Cartoonlike, expressive mixed-media illustrations are an eye-catching blend of bright colors, patterns, and perspectives; the multicultural kids and adults further the sense of inclusiveness. With its reassuring and upbeat elements, this may also help alleviate first-day fears as it highlights the many positive opportunities that await.”― Booklist

“This is a back to school book, during a year when back-to-school is anything but normal. However, this year is the exception. Next year, or the year after that, back to school will be the same with dozens of eager young five-year-olds nervously getting on the bus, going to school and wondering the same things. This book is for them and it’ll still help them this year as they go into the dining room or living room.”―Daddymojo.net

Teachers, Parents: Here’s a Video Presentation of ALL WELCOME HERE!

 

I was asked by an Oregon bookstore to create a brief video talk (under ten minutes) about my new picture book, All Welcome Here. This is part presentation, part read-aloud, targeted for young readers. I had a little production help this one, and I think it turned out okay.

Teachers, feel free to share with your students. And parents — hey, why not? — share away. 

Note that I’ve put up other videos at a dedicated “James Preller Youtube Channel,” including read alouds of the first Jigsaw Jones book (out of print!), Scary Tales: Goodnight, Zombie, along with general talks with writing tips for middle graders and very young readers.

But mostly, I know this is such a tough time for teachers, students, parents, so many of us. Hopefully this book celebrates the best of us, sending positive signals about acceptance, kindness, and community. Good luck, be smart, and stay healthy! 

 

Book Page Features ALL WELCOME HERE Among Four Picture Books That Capture the Excitement & Trepidation of the First Day of School

 

 

Book Page is an independent self-proclaimed “discovery tool” for readers, highlighting the best new books across all genres, featuring only books that are “highly recommended.”

So it was a proud moment — in a discouraging year — to see my new picture book, All Welcome Here, featured among three other titles for “books that capture the excitement, trepidation and curiosity of the first day of school.”

Linda M. Castellitto wrote the piece, and said this of All Welcome Here

With spot-on snippets of poetry and illustrations steeped in primary colors, All Welcome Here captures the swirling, frenetic energy of the first day of school. Author James Preller’s linked haiku lead readers through the maze of an exciting, chaotic and often humorous new adventure. A diverse group of children clamors for fresh school supplies (“All the bright new things / Smell like sunrise, like glitter”) and the release of recess (“Can we? Is it true? / Yes, recess. Run, RUN!”). They also consider the scariness of stepping onto a giant yellow school bus for the first time (“It’s dark and noisy / and what if they aren’t nice?”). The effect is sometimes impressionistic and always empathetic. 

Fans of illustrator Mary GrandPré, Caldecott Honoree for The Noisy Paintbox, will be pleased to see her work here. Her collages and paintings, which make clever use of color and pattern, capture both the big splash of a water fountain prank and the engrossed calm of bookworms enjoying library time. Preller dedicates the book to “public school teachers everywhere” and GrandPré to “all young artists,” fitting tributes to those who inspired this spirited whirlwind of first-day jitters and delight.


Linda included three other titles in her roundup: Pearl Goes to Preschool by my pal Julie Fortenberry (Yeah, Julie!); Our Favorite Day of the Year by A.E. Ali, illustrated by Rahele Jomepour Bell; and Danbi Leads the School Parade by debut author-illustrator Anna Kim.
Congratulations, my fellow travelers, and welcome to the club, Anna! I look forward to checking out your books.

 

PW Features ALL WELCOME HERE In Its Back-to-School Roundup

Well, gee, readers: Has there ever been a better time to come out with a back-to-school book?

Well, yeah, yeah, there has been a better time. Pretty much all other times would have been better.

Oh well!

Anyway, an aside: I thought this was funny in a funny-very-not-funny way.

 

The image was posted by a blogger, Christine Stevens, who teaches theater in a middle school. Click here for the full post that accompanies it. Or just stay for the headline: “Note from the Principal: This Fall Your Classroom Will be Equipped with a Lion.”

Ha, ha, oh crap.

The Lion is a Metaphor, Folks!

Good luck, my friends, and please take every precaution to keep yourself and your students safe. I’m worried about you.

Moving on to the real reason I invited you here . . . 

BACK TO SCHOOL BOOKS

That’s right! Regardless of how schools open, or not; regardless of how we teach and learn, online or in person; there are time-honored themes that feel especially appropriate for any school year — and, yes, maybe even especially for 2020.

Emma Kantor, writing for Publishers Weekly, put together a list of titles that she felt were particularly right for this time of year. I was happy to see All Welcome Here at the top of the (alphabetical) list:

While it remains uncertain if schools across the country will reopen for students this fall, we’ve gathered a selection of noteworthy books to get young readers back in the spirit of learning and connecting with teachers and classmates—in-person or at a distance.

Picture Books

All Welcome Here

James Preller, illus. by Mary GrandPré. Feiwel and Friends, June 16 $18.99 (40p) ISBN 978-1-250-15588-7. Ages 4–7.

The creator of the Jigsaw Jones series switches creative tacks with this sequence of haiku that propels classmates through a busy opening day of school, highlighting their activities, personalities, and emotions. Caldecott Honoree GrandPré captures the day’s shifting moods in pictures of absorbed, interacting kids of various skin tones and abilities.

Here’s the full link, just stomp on it. Emma includes many books that look pretty great from where I’m sitting. Check ’em out.

Thank you very much, Emma, both Mary and I appreciate the support!

 

 

 

ALL WELCOME HERE Among 3 Titles Featured in This Back-to-School Roundup

“James Preller pays tribute

to all the big feelings

that bubble to the surface when

a new school year begins.”

 

I was delighted to come across this article in The Virginian-Pilot. My thanks to Caroline Luzzatto for the kind words and excellent recommendations. I’m looking forward to reading the other two books mentioned, especially The Word for Friend by Aidan Cassie. Esperanto, anyone? Good luck with your books, Selina and Aidan!

 

As a strange school year comes to a strange end, it’s easy to see the long summer ahead as a welcome break from worksheet packets or Zoom class meetings. But it’s a bittersweet feeling for so many students — including my own, who said, as we met for the last time, that they missed school and were looking forward to returning to class in a way they never had before. June seems like an odd time to page through a stack of back-to-school books — but they are landing in bookstores this month, in anticipation of a summer filled with longing and a fall that children and parents alike hope is full of promise.

“All Welcome Here” by James Preller, illustrated by Mary GrandPre.(Ages 4 to 7. Feiwel & Friends. $18.99.) In haiku form, James Preller pays tribute to all the big feelings that bubble to the surface when a new school year begins, from “all the bright new things” in the backpack to the end of the day, when “One question remains: ‘May we/ come back tomorrow?’ ” Mary GrandPre’s exuberant mixed-media illustrations show a diverse group of students at desks, rugs and library bookshelves, in a school that welcomes them as they ponder lunch, recess, name tags, and belonging: “At every desk,/A chair with tennis-ball feet,/A place just for you.”

“One Golden Rule at School: A Counting Book” by Selina Alko. (Ages 2 to 6. Henry Holt and Co. $17.99.) Selina Alko’s dynamic mixed-media illustrations give young readers so much to look at in this warm and welcoming book that offers not just a chance to count but also a message of community. The book counts up through the beginning of the day, then back down as the school day ends, offering a reassuring look at “ONE great day at school,” complete with “ONE golden rule” that encourages students to treat others as they wish to be treated.

“The Word for Friend” by Aidan Cassie. (Ages 4 to 8. Farrar, Straus and Giroux. $18.99.) Kemala is a high-spirited, talkative newcomer (and, incidentally, an adorable pangolin) ready to find her way when she comes to a new country with her mother. She gazes out the window: “Somewhere in her new town was her new school. It was filled with new friends.” And perhaps it is — but Kemala, unable to speak her classmates’ language, doesn’t know how to connect with them. Mortified by her future friends’ reaction to her own language, she curls into an armored ball (as pangolins do). But Kemala is too bold and energetic to be discouraged for long — and using the universal language of play, she finds one friend, and then many. Cassie’s tale is encouraging and warm, offering a peek inside the mind of a language-learner who doesn’t yet have the words to express herself. (An extra bonus for language fans: To make the experience universal, rather than particular to any country, the new language Kemala is learning is Esperanto, which is discussed in an endnote.)