Lisa Rathbun's Reviews > If Not for the Cat

If Not for the Cat by Jack Prelutsky
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's review
Aug 11, 2011

On every two page spread is a beautiful illustration of an animal with one haiku in large type. I would like to read these without showing children the pictures, allowing them to guess what animal is being described. Then I would read it again, showing them the picture. This is a fun, approachable introduction to haiku. I did think that while the subject matter and the format seemed appropriate for younger children, the vocabulary was very advanced: "gelatinously, undulate, gaudily, nasturtium, translucent, hulk, extinguishes, raucously, burgle, vicinity, bliss, dominion." I don't like to have to explain poetry to children line by line or word by word. I guess if I were to color the words adding appropriate body movement, I could help them understand the difficult words in context. Certainly, the words are well-chosen for the poems: for example, the sound in "gaudily" is echoed by the word "squawk" describing a parrot. Overall it is a lovely book, but while its appearance may make it seem appropriate for preschoolers, even young grade-school children will be challenged by the vocabulary.

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