[review] H is for Haiku: A Treasury of Haiku from A to Z by Sydell Rosenberg and Sawsan Chalabi

#55 in an ongoing series of posts celebrating the alphabet.

Children’s umbrellas glistening in the rain, roadside sunflowers turning their heads, a dreaming cat encircled by its furry tail.

These are a few of my favorite “small moments” from this charming new picture book, H is for Haiku: A Treasury of Haiku from A to Z by Sydell Rosenberg and Sawsan Chalabi (Penny Candy Books, 2018).

According to her daughter Amy Losak, “Syd” (who passed away in 1996) had a “gift for life,” a unique ability to find joy in small everyday moments that the average person might overlook. A keen observer with an innate spirit of adventure, she was able to make the ordinary extraordinary through her haiku and senryū.


Syd and Amy


Syd started writing poetry as a child, and for decades while teaching in NYC public schools, she published both poetry and prose in various journals and anthologies. She was also a charter member of the Haiku Society of America in 1968. But Syd was never able to fulfill her dream of publishing a book of haiku for children until now.

After years of work — sifting through her mother’s manuscripts and then researching publishers — Amy’s promise to honor her mother in this unique way has finally come to fruition. The 26 fresh and appealing haiku “snapshots” spotlight such kid friendly subjects as getting your first library card, lobster “monsters,” wading flamingos, munching squirrels and gliding swans, as well as ice cream queues and toys in the backseat of a car. Syd took a modern approach to haiku/senryū, and was not constrained by traditional meter or subject matter, as she explored themes in nature, urban life, and human relationships.

Sawsan Chalabi’s whimsical illustrations amplify and energize Syd’s word pictures with hand-drawn letters that have personalities all their own. Each page turn is a delight, each haiku is fun to read aloud, each fleeting moment of wonder and magic is captured for all eternity.

Haiku is that fledging moment, when
the wingstrokes become sure — when the
bird has staying power in the air.

~ Sydell Rosenberg

H is for Haiku is a delightful introduction to the form, and lest we forget, a unique alphabet book. It might encourage kids to pause, look closer, and engage with the world through all their senses. Whatever they observe is valid fodder for a poem, with rich adventures to be found around every corner.

Enjoy this sampler platter from the book:









H IS FOR HAIKU: A Treasury of Haiku from A to Z
written by Sydell Rosenberg
illustrated by Sawsan Chalabi
published by Penny Candy Books, April 2018
Poetry Picture Book for Children ages 5-11, 40 pp.
*Includes Forewords by Amy Losak and Sydell Rosenberg

♥️ Read Amy’s guest posts at Poetry for Children and Today’s Little Ditty for more backstory about her mom and publishing this book.

♥️ Check out Amy’s interviews at Robyn Hood Black’s Life on the Deckle Edge and Matt Forrest Esenwine’s Radio, Rhythm & Rhyme for even more.

♥️ Read this lovely review at Linda Baie’s TeacherDance.



The lovely and talented Irene Latham is hosting the Roundup at Live Your Poem. Glide on over to check out the full menu of poetic goodness being served up in the blogosphere this week. Have a nice weekend!


♥️ More alphabetica here.


Certified authentic alphabetica. Made by hand just for you with love, tickle-y drops of rain, and 17 cheeky syllables (more or less).  😊

*Interior spreads posted by permission, text copyright © 2018 Amy Losak, illustrations © 2018 Sawsan Chalabi, published by Penny Candy Books. All rights reserved.

**This post contains Amazon Affiliate links. When you purchase something using a link on this site, Jama’s Alphabet Soup receives a small referral fee (at no extra cost to you). Thank you for your support!

Copyright © 2018 Jama Rattigan of Jama’s Alphabet Soup. All rights reserved.

36 thoughts on “[review] H is for Haiku: A Treasury of Haiku from A to Z by Sydell Rosenberg and Sawsan Chalabi

  1. Thank you, Jama! This is such a beautiful, beautiful book from the way it was conceived and brought forth to the content. I’m so happy that it’s been shared so lovingly and widely in our writing communities. I cannot WAIT to get my hands on it. I’m asking my local library to get a copy for many to share.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The publication backstory is indeed inspiring. Also goes to show that good poetry is timeless. Syd’s haiku are just as relevant today as they were when she first wrote them.


  2. Certified authentic alphabetica indeed! I love how the text is incorporated into the art of this book… NEED to see this one in person! Thank you for the sampler, Jama. Delicious! xo

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’ve enjoyed the interviews at Matt’s and Robyn’s blogs, as well as Amy’s guest posts at Poetry for Children and Today’s Little Ditty. Something different each time — always inspiring and interesting.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Oh, this book looks luscious!

    I can’t resist alphabet books, or haiku, or mother-daughter collaborations … oh, just ALL of it. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Thanks for including me, Jama. You know how much I love this book, am so excited that it is out, and that it’s being so celebrated. Thanks for your lovely post about it!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I am in love with that watering can poem! Thanks for this sneak peek into Amy’s wonderful project/Syd’s book.


  6. I love the original way that text and images join together in your example pages! It’s especially nice that these Western type thoughts aren’t forced into some model of Japanese calligraphy, but reflect the nature of the thoughts (at least I thought so).

    best… mae at maefood.blogspot.com

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, you’re right. While it’s important to preserve the essence of the haiku form, there is definitely room for modern approaches and interpretations.


  7. This is a wonderful review, Jama, and so chock-filled with samples of the work. What a delightful book. At my PF post, I mentioned your calendar of poetry events with the link so people can go to your link for all the poetry goodness from Poetry Friday poets. I also announced my spring gallery, Sense-sational Spring, as I said that I would do. Thank you for adding me to the calendar with my Winter Gallery.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I added the links to both the Winter Gallery and your Sense-sational Spring invitation post. Thanks for linking to the NPM roundup, and for reading this review. 🙂


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