#kidlit Haiku Riddles: Lion of the Sky by Laura Purdie Salas

Laura Purdie Salas has long been one of my favorite children’s picture book authors (see previous reviews for Water Can Be… and A Leaf Can Be…) In her newest, Lion of the Sky:  Haiku for All Seasons (illustrated by Mercè López) she travels though the seasons with 24 delightful haiku riddles. Fabulous!

What is a haiku riddle? It is a haiku that gives clues to an object or activity — in this case associated with a season — and encourages the reader to guess what it is. Many of the riddles are written in the first person point-of-view, voiced by the object itself.

The illustrations are expressive and add just the right number of additional clues to help the reader figure out the answer. If you get stuck on one, however, the answers are given in the back matter.

Let’s see some examples:

  1. Listen to  Laura Purdie Salas read from the book.


2. You can also see an excerpt at the Lerner website or via Google Books:

Aren’t those fun?

Lion of the Sky encourages young reader to look closely at the world around them and think creatively. Get caught up in a copy today!

Related Activity:

Encourage children to come up with their own riddles, haiku or not. Watch out, though, because it can be addicting.

Here is mine:

My leaves are lion teeth
Yellow flower feeds honey bees
Not a weed to them

See the photograph below for a clue.

Age Range: 5 – 9 years
Publisher: Millbrook Press TM (April 2, 2019)
ISBN-10: 1512498092
ISBN-13: 978-1512498097

dandelion inspired by Laura Purdie Salas

Reaching New Heights in #Kidlit If You Were the Moon by @LauraPSalas

Laura Purdie Salas has long been one of our favorite authors (see previous reviews for Water Can Be… and A Leaf Can Be…) In her newest, If You Were the Moon* illustrated by Jaime Kim, Salas reaches new heights.

(*Amazon Affiliate link)

Combining spare, imaginative text with denser scientific explanations, this book has potential for a multitude of uses. It can be a lovely bedtime book, the basis for a language arts lesson, or a great accompaniment to a lesson on the solar system.

Salas must inspire her illustrators to greatness, because Jaime Kim’s art positively shines.

If You Were the Moon is a must have for budding astronomers and poets everywhere.

See for yourself in this book trailer:

Related Activities:

1. Visit Laurie Purdie Salas’s website for downloadable teaching guides (long and short versions) and other goodies.

2. In the longer teaching guide, the author reveals that If You Were the Moon began as a list poem. Some of the earliest list poems were by Sei Shonogan, a Japanese writer/poet who lived around the year 1000. Here’s an example from The Pillow Book:

Things that Pass by Rapidly

A boat with its sail up.
People’s age.
Spring. Summer. Autumn. Winter.
~ Sei Shonogan

My own example (see more here):

Things my cat George likes:
Rubbing faces when he gets up in the morning
A dropped Cheerio
The top of the cat-scratching post
Chasing ping-pong balls down the stairs
Things I like:
My cat George

Encourage children to try writing a list poem.

3. See our growing list of poetry books about space at Science Books for Kids.

Age Range: 4 – 8 years
Publisher: Millbrook Press (March 1, 2017)
ISBN-10: 146778009X
ISBN-13: 978-1467780094

Water Can Be… a STEM Book

For STEM Friday we are introducing a new picture book Water Can Be . . . (Millbrook Picture Books) by Laura Purdie Salas and illustrated by Violeta Dabija, the same ultra-talented pair who brought us the wonderful A Leaf Can Be…


Opening the book, the reader will first notice Violeta Dabija’s sublime mixed-media illustrations, which are mesmerizing. Her illustrations in A Leaf Can Be… were fabulous and these are even better, if possible.

At the same time, the perfect rhyming text by Laura Purdie Salas appears, peaceful, gentle, just a few words on every page:

Water can be a…

Thirst quencher
Kid drencher
Cloud fluffer
Fire snuffer

After spending more time with the book, readers begin to discover the depth. They might notice how it is subtly organized by the passing of the seasons –  spring, summer, fall, winter – perhaps on the second reading. Then they might discover the back matter, which has “More About Water” with explanations for each rhyming phrase, also noticing the scientific vocabulary – words like “condense,” “water vapor,” and “upstream.” The book could be used to learn about weather, the importance of water to living things, and even life cycles. On the back they will find a dedication to WaterAid.org, an organization that helps bring water, sanitation and hygiene to areas that lack it (Salas has committed to donate 10% of her royalties of this book to WaterAid). It is soon obvious that this book has a lot of substance. This is not a “hit-them-with-facts” STEM book, but instead it is a gentle, “pull-them-in-and-let-them-find-out-the-science-for-themselves” title.

Ready for a preview? Check this trailer:

Isn’t the sound of the rain delightful?

Water Can Be . . . (Millbrook Picture Books) is a quiet little book with a huge message about the importance of water. Pick it up today to share and see where it takes you.

Looking for science activities to accompany the book? Growing with Science has some science experiment suggestions.

•    Violeta Dabija’s Website
•    Laura Purdie Salas’ Blog
•    Laura Purdie Salas’ Website

Ages 5-8
Series: Millbrook Picture Books
Publisher: Millbrook Pr Trade (April 1, 2014)
ISBN-10: 1467705918
ISBN-13: 978-1467705912

Disclosures: These book were provided by the publisher for review purposes electronically via NetGalley. Also, I am an affiliate with Amazon so I can provide you with cover images and links to more information about books and products. As you probably are aware, if you click through the highlighted title link and purchase a product, I will receive a very small commission, at not extra cost to you. Any proceeds help defray the costs of hosting and maintaining this website.


Come visit the STEM Friday blog each week to find more great Science, Technology, Engineering and Math books.

A Leaf Can Be . . .

Are you excited about the unveiling of the Youth Awards at the Midwinter ALA? I can’t wait to see which books win, but I am also very excited about today’s book.

A Leaf Can Be . . . by Laura Purdie Salas would be almost guaranteed next year’s Caldecott if illustrator Violeta Dabija was an American. Alas, she is from the Republic of Moldova in eastern Europe. I guess there’s still the Sibert medal…

Yes, the mixed-media illustrations in this gorgeous picture book are of that caliber. Yes, the illustrations are definitely what draw you in. It is Laura Salas’ sublime poetry, however, that makes you want to read it again and again.

Salas reveals on her website that she was inspired to write the book by the adorable white Honduran tent bats that use large leaves for tent-like shelters each night. From that jumping off point, she researched many other uses for leaves. The leaf “jobs” she highlights are sure to lead to further discussions, ideas for activities, stories, and memories. Notes in the backmatter help fill in the details, but readers’ imaginations are likely to take it much further.

Take a look:

Poetry, science and gorgeous art all wrapped together. This book is sure to inspire and enthrall many young readers (and adults as well.)

A Leaf Can Be . . . is already getting a lot of well-deserved buzz, with a review today at Shelf-employed and another wonderful review by Jeff at NC Teacher Stuff. Although technically being released February 1, 2012, some retailers are already carrying it.

Edit: For leaf-related hands-on activities, see Growing With Science

Ages: 5-8
Hardcover: 32 pages
Publisher: Millbrook Pr Trade (February 1, 2012)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0761362037
ISBN-13: 978-0761362036

Review was based on an electronic copy provided by the publisher.

Nonfiction Monday is a blogging celebration of nonfiction books for kids. We invite you to join us. For more information and a schedule, stop by Booktalking to see who is hosting each week.

This week’s round-up is at Shelf-employed.