RED DRAGONFLY ON MY SHOULDER by Sylvia & Kunihiro Suetake--Trans. Cassedy
Kirkus Star


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Thirteen of the seventeen haiku originally published as a bilingual picture book, Birds, Frogs, and Moonlight, in 1967 (a fact mentioned nowhere in this book); newly illustrated by the extraordinarily inventive Bang (two Caldecott honors, including Ten Nine, Eight, 1983). The translations of Cassedy, the late poet and novelist (M. E. and Morton, 1987), are lovely examples of this spare form, but Bang's illustrations steal the show. The book opens sideways to form tall double spreads, photos of recognizable objects combined in collages that are: intriguing for their innovative use of materials (a sweet-potato flying fish with potato-chip wings poised over waves of blue corn-chips); have a direct appeal to children (the title's dragonfly perches on a cookie person surrounded by delectable-looking homemade sugar-cookie leaves in true leaf--not cookie cutter--shapes, delicately browned as if they have only recently fallen); are remarkably evocative of the images in the poetry (a praying mantis whose legs are formed from bits of saw and whose head is a windup key); and are outstanding as pure design. There's even a note identifying the materials (yes, the water striders really are chocolate-covered almonds). A book of multiple uses and delights. The trade edition is probably the best bet; a tight centerfold would interrupt the flow of the beautifully crafted art (reviewed before binding).

Pub Date: March 30th, 1992
Page count: 32pp
Publisher: HarperCollins