Quietly, stealthily Ninja Mouse: Haiku, written and illustrated by J. C. Thomas, creeps into your heart.
It isn’t easy to know what to expect when you see the cover of this book. The fierce mouse in the ninja garb and the comic book/graphic novel illustrations might lead the potential reader to believe this will be an action-packed story full of conflict and violence. Instead it is an almost silent journey of discovery, beautifully delivered entirely in haiku.
The illustrations in this book are inspiring. There’s something about dignity of the mouse, set against nature scenes, the dark versus light, and the splashes of color that are mesmerizing. Each two-page spread consists of the left-hand page divided into thirds, with the haiku text spread throughout. The right-hand page is a full scene with the Japanese text down the right side.
The book trailer gives a taste.
Author J.C. Thomas has a degree in International Relations and East Asia studies and he is currently an elementary school teacher. He is also a sixth-degree black belt in Taekwondo. This combination assures that the book is authentic, detailed, and useful for the classroom. There is a note about haiku in the back that explains how it differs in Japanese.
Ninja Mouse: Haiku would be perfect for poetry month and to accompany a unit on haiku, especially for reluctant readers who might be drawn in by ninjas and comics. It would also be a wonderful accompaniment for a unit on Japan and East Asia studies.
Suggested related activity:
This book is so inspiring, it begs to be accompanied by an activity for children to create haiku and then illustrate it. For example, Scholastic has a haiku lesson plan. The Exploring Nature Educational Resource has a number of drawing lessons, like this one for a grasshopper. Please feel free to leave other suggestions in the comments, if you choose.
Paperback: 40 pages
Publisher: SuperUltraGo! Press (October 16, 2014)
Language: English and Japanese
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