A kitty companion to The Cuckoo’s Haiku (2009) and The Hound Dog’s Haiku (2011).
Rosen presents one perfect haiku—five-seven-five with a burst of insight—each on 20 different cat breeds. The poems are split into sections called “Inside,” followed by “Outside,” then “Inside” and finally “Outside,” a pattern any human owned by a cat will recognize. The Zen of the “Abyssinian” is emblematic of the whole collection: “curled up on your book / cat won’t care what happens next / now’s the only page.” Each poem is paired with a beautiful, digitally created full-color illustration by White that sometimes is content to illustrate the poem and other times makes its image more clear, as with “Bombay”: “paired shadows prowling / in nightfall, but just two lights / pierce that darkness.” The double-page spread shows a black cat and its shadow on a dark cityscape in grays and aqua; the two yellow eyes gleam. Though it looks like there are two cats, the shadow, of course, has no eyes. Backmatter includes a few short paragraphs of information on each breed, ranging from historical to behavioral. Norwegian forest cats love to be handled, for example, and the Scottish fold originates from a single progenitor, born in 1961.
This perfect poetical paean to pussycats makes both a fine gift for a cat lover and an excellent haiku handbook. (Picture book/poetry. 7-12)