Thursday, February 14, 2008

In A Spring Garden

In a Spring Garden
edited by Richard Lewis
pictures by Ezra Jack Keats
The Dial Press, 1965

This haiku collection is made up of little snippets by Basho, Onitsursa, Kyoroku, Buson, Chora, Gyodai, Shiki, Ryota and Uko... but ultimately, mostly the Japanese poet Kobayashi Issa. Short and sweet, enunciated by Ezra Jack Keats' fabulous paintings. Like so...

Just simply alive,
Both of us, I
And the poppy.

Keats uses the same illustration style here that he employed for his six book series chronicling the life of the boy Peter (Snowy Day, Whistle for Willie, etc.) and his Web site reads "In the books that Keats wrote and illustrated, he used his special artistic techniques to portray his subjects in a unique manner. One of these was his blending of gouache with collage. Gouache is an opaque watercolor mixed with a gum that produces an oil-like glaze." Gotta love his style.

My favorite haiku of the bunch?

The toad! It looks as if
It would belch forth
A cloud!

And the little illustrations of the frogs... they really do look as if they could create a puff of white out of nothing!

Also by:
Whistle for Willie
Maggie and the Pirate
How To Be A Nature Detective


Nicole said...

I'm going to sound like the spokesperson for Weston Woods, but they did a really nice documentary of EJK (you might be able to find it in the library). He seems so damn nice -- he's got pictures and letters from schoolchildren saved & on the walls -- and he shows some of the paper he uses for collages in his work.

They also did a bunch of other authors (Robert McCloskey and Tomi Ungerer, my personal favorite, come to mind). Our local New Hampshire PBS station sometimes shows them late at night, so I've taped a bunch of them.

Burgin Streetman said...

Ha! I love those WW tapes. And Snowy Day is my son's absolute fave. The library has a ton, so I'm gonna have to see if I can get my hands on that documentary. thanks for the tip!

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