A sijo, a traditional Korean verse form, has a fixed number of stressed syllables and a humorous or ironic twist at the end. Like haiku, sijo are brief and accessible, and the witty last line winds up each poem with a surprise. The verses in this book illuminate funny, unexpected, amazing aspects of the everyday--of breakfast, thunder and lightning, houseplants, tennis, freshly laundered socks. Carefully crafted and deceptively simple, Linda Sue Park's sijo are a pleasure to read and an irresistible invitation to experiment with an unfamiliar poetic form. Istvan Banyai's irrepressibly giddy and sophisticated illustrations add a one-of-a-kind luster to a book that is truly a gem.
Similar to the Japanese haiku, the Korean sijo packs image, metaphor and surprise into three long (or six short) lines with a fixed number of syllables: "Lightning jerks the sky awake to take her photograph, flash!/ Which draws grumbling complaints or even crashing tantrums from thunder-/ He hates having his picture taken, so he always gets there late." Newbery Medalist Park's (A Single Shard) sijo skip lightly from breakfast ("warm, soft, and delicious-a few extra minutes in bed") to bedtime (about bathing: "From a tiled cocoon, a butterfly with terry-cloth wings"), with excursions to the backyard, the classroom, and the beach ("Are all the perfect sand dollars locked away somewhere-in sand banks?"). The sijo's contours are clean and spare, qualities echoed in the blue-gray, black and white architecture and crisp shadows of Banyai's (Zoom) digital illustrations. In the spirit of Park's experiments with this verse form, Banyai's miniature children bounce through a series of imaginative leaps unencumbered by the rules of the real world. They sleep in teacups, grow wings and fly among the flowers, snip mathematical equations to bits with gigantic pairs of scissors, and wreak havoc with bottles of ink. Park wants readers to try sijo for themselves, and in an extensive author's note she offers history, advice and encouragement; her own sijo and Banyai's cheeky images will supply the motivation. Ages 9-12. (Oct.)Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information