Posted in book reviews (all genres), picture books, poetry friday, tagged biography, chi chi dango, children's poetry, food, haiku, hawaii, issa, japanese food, mochi, picture book biography, picture books, poetry, recipes on May 15, 2015 |
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Ohayoo gozaimasu! Good Morning!
Please help yourself to a nice warm cup of Genmaicha (green tea with brown rice) and a piece of chi chi dango mochi. I remember many a time when my mother made a pot of Genmaicha after a good meal — a soothing way to cleanse the palate and set the stage for some lively ‘talk story.’
A couple of weeks ago, I searched Lee and Low’s website for books I hadn’t yet read and found the perfect picture book to share for Asian-Pacific American Heritage Month. Cool Melons — Turn to Frogs!: The Life and Poems of Issa by Matthew Gollub and Kazuko G. Stone was first published in 1998, so many of you are probably already familiar with it. How did I miss it? I’m so glad I finally read it, as now it’s one of my favorite haiku picture books ever.
Issa wrote this haiku when he was just six years old.
I love how every aspect of this book embodies the essence of haiku — its complex simplicity, beauty, elegance, and ability to open the eyes, refresh the mind, and inspire contemplation.
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When we were preparing for my mother’s memorial service last month, we found several files full of newspaper clippings, photos and documents relating to her service in the Women’s Army Corps during World War II.
It was interesting to see the orders calling her to active duty, a roster of the first 59 women from Hawai’i to enlist, correspondence about awards and medals she had earned, and her certificate of Honorable Discharge. But what my brother and I probably cherished most was a short chronology she had written about her experiences.
Her simple words were an unexpected gift that made us appreciate anew her courage and resolve during uncertain times. She was living on O’ahu when the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941. She was willing to leave her family and friends to serve in the military at a time of rampant racism and sexism, not knowing where in the world she would be sent once she finished basic training.
In my mom’s handwriting on the back of this photo: “This is the picture we took at our company party. The lei are all paper lei we made.”
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