Guess Who, Haiku by Deanna Caswell (homeschooling mother of five!) is what I’d consider to be the “youngest” book of the 2016 shortlisted titles in the poetry category. Of course, anyone who has ever written haiku will know that the apparent simplicity of these poems is very deceptive. However, younger kids who read this book (or have it read to them) will mostly appreciate the riddle format: each poem offers clues to the identity of an animal. Below each poem is a pictorial clue, and the answer is revealed on the next page, again with cute and cartoonish illustration by Bob Shea. Older children and adults can marvel at and appreciate the linguistic finagling required to arrange just the right number of syllables in each of these powerful little packages of language. Repetition of the line “Can you guess who from this [his, her] haiku?” at the end of the riddle presents the reader with the opportunity to make a guess. The ending of the book is a sweet surprise for the reader.
And now for my favorite haiku, just for fun:
a chunk of swiss cheese
chewing sounds heard from a hole
in the kitchen wall
Anyone from about age three to ninety-three can enjoy this fun book. It would be perfect for a poetry tea time or any read aloud session. (Abrams, 2016)