A collection of haiku with a horse theme is paired with watercolors in this picture book.
The evocative haiku are loosely organized into three groups: “In the Field,” “At the Barn,” and “In Saddle,” with an afterword by author Rosen that explains his creative intent and inspiration in drawing parallels between the horse and the haiku. Each of Rosen’s poems, in proper haiku tradition, captures a momentary impression, and the collection adds up not so much to a storyline as an evocation of place and emotion. Readers who are familiar with horses will feel the full impact, such as the horse’s steaming back when the saddle is removed, although many other haiku are just as effective for readers who must use imagination only. Illustrator Fellows’ richly rendered watercolors are the perfect match, since they too exhibit the expertise and close observation inherent in the haiku. They are done in an earthy palette of greens, blues, browns, and yellows with the occasional dab of bright blue or red, and Fellows’ use of the white paper for highlight and delineation is as masterful as it is deceptively simple. Pencil lines are unabashedly left in, as are drawn-in details that are left without color, reinforcing the illustrations’ fresh, spontaneous feel.
Altogether a fresh and masterful contribution to the genres of both haiku and horse. (Picture book/poetry. 8-14)