GRASS SANDALS: The Travels of Basho by Dawnine Spivak

GRASS SANDALS: The Travels of Basho

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Spivak compresses the travels of a 17th-century Japanese poet into one journey meant to convey the essence of his life. After an over-abundance of front matter--obtrusive but endearing dedication, two half-title pages, title page, prefatory notes on haiku and Japanese characters (kanji), and an odd spread devoted to old men in China who nest in trees, the story of Basho begins. He leaves his home with few belongings, writing haiku to describe his steady delight in his experiences. The haiku are displayed on the pages; nowhere in the book is it expressly stated that these are Basho's. One verse is credited to Issa, a poet who lived a century after Basho; the CIP states that examples of Basho's work appear but no information backs that assumption; no translator is listed. A map of places Basho visited and a list of what he saw, with place names, is followed by a biographical note. Demi does her best to create a feeling for historical Japan, but the book is dissected into so many notes and extraneous components that the simplicity of Basho's life--and haiku in general--will elude readers.

Pub Date: April 1st, 1997
ISBN: 1442409363
Page count: 40pp
Publisher: Atheneum