Celeste's Reviews > GUYKU: A Year of Haiku for Boys

GUYKU by Bob Raczka
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's review
Aug 17, 2011

it was ok
bookshelves: children-s-books, poetry
Read in August, 2011

I am generally suspicious of anything that claims to be "for boys" or "for girls." At the same time, as I am raising my little son, I am always on the lookout for positive images of masculinity. So I figured I should give Guyku a read. In the end, it turned out to be what I feared: a book of poetry that ought to be accessible to every child artificially limited in its scope to exclude half of them. The haiku in the book depict little boys playing in the woods, running around outside, and generally having a good time. All of these are activities that little girls can and do engage in. Young children spend a lot of time trying to figure out what is a "boy thing" and what is a "girl thing," and our job as parents and educators should be to help them see past those false dichotomies. Bob Raczka chooses instead to portray a world where little boys play with other little boys, and little girls are presumably off doing something else.

If the book had been titled something else, I would have given it a much higher rating. The poems themselves are well written and capture the enchantment children find in the natural world. Also, in our world of iPhone apps for toddlers, I think it is great to remind children of the fabulous world of fun you can have without any technology at all.
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Reading Progress

04/17/2016 marked as: read

Comments (showing 1-5 of 5) (5 new)

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message 1: by Joni (new)

Joni Harris There are books especially written for girls, too. I don't see that as being a big problem. The book is cute and fun. Lighten up!


Diana Celeste, I couldn't agree more. It's a shame that the book isn't more inclusive, because the content is very cute.


message 3: by J.D. (new)

J.D. It's nice to hear someone else picked up on this, too. Human beings are human beings, and there is no inherent divide based on gender. I've known girls stronger and more athletic than their brothers, guys who like to make jewelry, women who run businesses and climb mountains, and men who cook those women dinner at the end of the day. So, I always find it a little crazy when books distinguish like this.

Strength and humor, courage and goodness, virtue and intelligence, etc. -- all the good aspects that a human being can have, are not gender-specific. These are qualities every child deserves to know that they can have. Whether male or female, no child should ever have to wonder: Can I do this even though I'm a girl/boy? -- They should feel like they can do anything or be anything their heart desires, without such conditions. It is just my humble, personal opinion, but I really feel like that's the best thing you can give a child beyond love and the essentials.


Jason Beyer My thoughts exactly! My daughter loves to do all of these things! I understand the desire to get boys into poetry but my daughter hates poetry as well! Or she thinks she does at least. Reynolds talks in the back of the book about defying stereotypes, meaning that boys shouldn't like poetry, but this book is really all about defining them.


Heather I read this today for Poetry Tea Time with my 4 year old son and 8 year old daughter. We definitely talked about how my daughter could and has done every single one of those things. Then we talked about how brother could easily be switched to sister in the haiku and not change the syllables and the meaning would be the same. We then read the authors reason for writing the book. Poetry IS often seen as a girl thing and he wanted to make it more accessible and acceptable to guys. Reality is there are books written for girls and books written for boys and that is really ok. There are finally even more books written to be inclusive to minorities and people with physical and mental differences. It’s all good. There should be something for everyone and talking about it with your kids can be the best lesson of all. In fact I could see writing a companion book with almost identical poems and imagery with a role reversal and call it Gal-ku (or girlku) or something like that... all thought I don’t really think it’s necessary. That would be like needing to rewrite a second version of Harry Potter or Percy Jackson so the main character is female. It could be done but strong women know that we are perfectly capable of doing everything boys can do.


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