Want to play an animal guessing game? Try reading If Not for the Cat by Jack Prelutsky. But, if you really want to solve the puzzles yourself without cheating, have someone else read the book out loud, hiding the illustrations. Then take a peek after you make your guess. Prelutsky composed seventeen animal haiku for this masterfully written puzzle book of poetry filled with stunning illustrations by Ted Rand. Even those that typically don't enjoy poetry will most likely find the book entertaining. Seventeen syllables each haiku and seventeen different animals -- it's pure brilliance with lines like, "I, the hoverer, / Sip the nasturtium's nectar / And sing with my wings." Hum a happy tune whilst you try to figure that one out.
We won our copy of If Not for the Cat from Playing by the Book last month and have enjoyed the book immensely. For the last few months, I've been discussing syllables with my daughter and clapping words out, so she enjoyed learning the 5-7-5 structure. This is one of those books that appeals to all ages, and it is a perfect book for teachers to use while teaching the haiku format.
If Not for the Cat by Jack Prelutsky, illustrated by Ted Rand. Greenwillow Books (September 2004); ISBN 9780060596774; 40 pages
My daughter wanted to write a few of her own, based on a couple of the bird illustrations in the book. She came up with the main words and I filled in the rest to create each poem. (We are by no means as talented as Prelutsky, and the first really isn't a riddle, but we tried. The "stay out of the corn" bit is entirely my daughter's own words. I'm impressed.)
Come close to me, wings beating
In a flash you're gone
You're black as the night
Sneaking through the farmer's field
Stay out of the corn
Here's one last "riddle haiku" for you that we wrote. (It holds true for those of us in Wisconsin. Those in Pennsylvania may not agree):
One cold February day
Predicts early spring
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