Last week was incredibly exciting and busy because our new picture book How to Build an Insect came out. Woot! Woot!
Now it is time to change gears and celebrate some wonderful picture books for National Poetry Month. Our first selection is Whoo-Ku Haiku: A Great Horned Owl Story by Maria Gianferrari and illustrated by Jonathan Voss.
Told in a series of haiku poems, the story follows a pair of great horned owls as they raise their owlets.
Pip. Pip. Pip. Poking
A hole. Cracking. Cracking. Out
Pecks the white owlet.
It seems like a simple premise, but in fact there is much packed into this book.
The life of the owls is not easy. Although great horned owls are predators, they also have enemies such as crows, raccoons, hawks, and foxes. The owlets are particularly vulnerable to danger.
The illustrations are gorgeous. The owlets look so soft and realistic that you want to reach out and touch them. If you look more carefully, you will see they contain much information about owl habitats in a subtle way. For example, the nest is made of leaves, an abandoned squirrel nest. Without resorting to too many dark pages, you realize the birds hunt at night. The way Jonathan Voss controls the lighting is incredible. You can see examples in this video:
(A brief note: care has been taken that the illustrations are not too graphic, but are realistic about owls carrying prey to their offspring. Highly sensitive children may still find some of the scenes disturbing.)
Although the text is written entirely in haiku and the emphasis on haiku in the title, it flows together so effortlessly that you get lost in the story and forget about the structure. Maria Gianferrari allows the owls to shine as the main characters.
The back matter also emphasizes the owls, giving more information about different aspects of their biology and resources for deeper research.
Whoo-Ku Haiku is a wonderful example of how to use poetry to entice readers into a nonfiction story. It is a must have for budding ornithologists, nature lovers, and poetry aficionados alike. Enjoy a copy today!
- Maria Gianferrari has finger puppets, how to write haiku PDF to downlaod, and great horned owl resources at her website.
- Kenn Nesbitt has a lesson for writing haiku with a worksheet.
- Scholastic has a haiku lesson plan for grades 6-8.
We’ll be adding this to our growing list of STEM poetry books at Science Books for Kids
Reading age : 4 – 8 years
Publisher : G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers; Illustrated edition (March 3, 2020)
ISBN-10 : 0399548424
ISBN-13 : 978-0399548420
Disclosure: The book was provided by our local library. 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 no extra cost to you. Any proceeds help defray the costs of hosting and maintaining this website.
Looking for more children’s nonfiction books? Try the Nonfiction Monday blog.