Friday, April 19, 2013

Unplug and Read! I Haiku You
































We are so excited to be part of Random House Unplugs: A Screen Free Week promotion. We're getting ready to unplug and read in only ten days to celebrate Screen Free Week! Today we'll tell you about Screen Free Week, review I Haiku You by Betsy Snyder and share our interview of Betsy Snyder! First, let's start with more information about Screen Free Week coming up, April 29-May 5.

Screen Free Week is the annual celebration from the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood (CCFC) that encourages turning off screens and turning on life.  CCFC’s Screen Free Week is a creative response to growing public health concerns about the unprecedented time children spend with entertainment screen media—television, computers, video games, and smart phones. Studies show that Preschoolers spend as much as 4.1 to 4.6 hours per day using screen media. Including multi-tasking, children 8 to 18 spend 7.5 hours per day with screens. Unplugging for one week provides an opportunity to reset media habits, establishing a healthy, sustainable tradition of media consumption in households and schools. This Spring, Random House Children’s Books is issuing a challenge: UNPLUG & READ during Screen Free Week April 29 – May 5.
 




 


Today we are so happy to be reviewing I Haiku You and sharing our interview with the author and illustrator, Betsy Snyder! we adore this little gem of a book and Betsy's work!

Title: I Haiku You     
Author: Betsy Snyder 
Illustrator: Betsy Snyder 
Publisher: Random House Books for Young Readers 
Publication Date: December 2012  Genre/Format: Fiction/Picture Book 
GoodReads Summary: This giftable little picture book of haiku by award winner Betsy Snyder is something adults will love to give one another as much as they'll enjoy sharing it with the youngest listeners. Perfect for Valentine's Day and any day of the year, this book will inspire people to tell one another, "I haiku you!"   
What Jen Thinks: Adore is the perfect word to explain how I feel about this book. I just adore it. It's such a sweet book in every way. These are exactly the kind of books I love for mentor texts. I Haiku You has wonderful illustrations and excellent text to match. This book isn't just another haiku poetry book; Betsy Snyder gets it write with these heart-warming haiku. Writing haiku is definitely an exercise in word choice because writers have to adhere to the specific number of syllables in each line. When you only get so many syllables, it makes you much more conscious of what words you are using. I love talking to students about synonyms and the intensity of words. We brainstorm a list of synonyms and add to our list by looking in a thesaurus but the most fun is talking about the difference between those words. No two words are exactly alike, they have (at least) a little difference of intensity. That's the trick about using a thesaurus and synonyms, students have to realize that it's not okay to simply go to the thesaurus and exchange a word. This is such a great introduction or reiteration of author's purpose. The author intentionally makes decisions to communicate with the reader and students need to see how their jobs as writers is to make decisions about how to express themselves. 
    I was so head-over-heels in love and inspired by Betsy's work in I Haiku You that I wrote my own haiku review: 
little small-sized book
soft watercolor artwork
adorable haiku-love
 
What Kellee Thinks: Such a cute picture book that is not only perfect for gift giving, but for a haiku discussion in a classroom (any level). The book focuses on love on all levels- romantic, family, pets, friends, nature, etc. and I love the conversation that this could start. I also liked the structure that Betsy Snyder chose going through the seasons and, of course, accompanying them all are adorable illustrations that add another level to the picture book.  
     Like Jen, one thing I loved in this book was the word choice. You can tell that she used very specific wording; not only to fit the haiku format, but to paint a picture in the readers mind. I don't teach grammar too often; however, I love teaching descriptive language and this book inspired me to have haikus be part of this discussion and lesson as they narrow your focus and make the writer be even more specific than they would be in a different setting.
Read Together: Grades Pre-K - 12 
Read Alone: Grades Pre-K - 12 
Read With:  Won-Ton: A Cat Tale Told in Haiku by Lee Wardlaw, Dogku by Andrew Clements, Someday by Eileen Spinelli, Here's a Little Poem by Jane Yolen
Snatch of Text:  
"wiggle-wag tail love,
sloppy-smoochy-poochy love,
true-furry-friend love"
Reading Strategies to Practice: Activating Background Knowledge, Making Connections, Making Inferences
Writing Strategies to Practice: Descriptive, Adjectives, Compound Adjectives, Poetry, $100 Words, Word Choice 
Writing Prompts: Write a haiku to someone who is special to you, think closely about the words the you choose because you have limited syllables to use. 
Topics Covered: Family, Siblings, Friendship, Love, Pets, Life Seasons
Jen *hearts* It:
Kellee *hearts* It:


TMT Interviews Betsy Snyder!
We asked Betsy about I Haiku You and her plans for Screen Free Week!  


TMT: Screen Free Week is a perfect chance for kids to turn off the TV and read. Then after kids read I Haiku You, they can write their own haiku. In haiku, word choice is so important because you have a limited amount of syllables to say precisely what you want to say. Can you give advice on how you collect or discover words and then how you finally decide which words to use?

Besty Snyder: A haiku is like a word picture, painting an image in your mind. I usually start with a moment or a feeling, often nature or favorite-thing inspired. I work the words around that moment. The syllables and sounds need to fit, but the ideas also need to fit—it's like putting together a seventeen-piece puzzle. I use a thesaurus or dictionary to help me make a word list, and then I shuffle and rearrange until all the words feel just-right. I try to keep my haiku playful and make the three lines mean something more when they are all combined. Placing theaha moment in the third line usually works well—it's like revealing the answer to a riddle. The more haiku you write, the better you get.

Writing I Haiku You and Haiku Baby was a little more complicated in that each haiku needed to fit the theme and work well together as a collection. But for each haiku, I still went back to the same writing process.

TMT: I Haiku You lends itself towards teaching about haiku but can be a novelty gift for Valentine’s Day or an anniversary or a just-for-fun read during Screen Free week or any week, for that matter. Did you purposefully set out to write a book that would cover all of these different avenues?

Betsy Snyder: Yes, I did set out to write a collection of haiku that felt personal but also universal. It took some time and experimenting to find a voice that spoke to kids, adults and all kinds relationships. My favorite children's books are ones that speak to the child in all of us—I don't think we ever outgrow books like that.
 
TMT: Throughout the book, you change the point of view for each poem. Why did you make this decision?

Betsy Snyder: My early haiku attempts for the book lacked emotion—they felt too distant. Point of view was really the key to making the haiku feel like a sentiment. When I started to think about the haiku as valentines, POV clicked for me. I didn't consciously shift POVs—I think I just picked the POV that felt right for each moment. 
 
 
TMT: We especially love the descriptive adjectives you use like: “wiggle-wag”, “sloppy-smoochy-poochy”, and “achy-heartbreak”. Jen refers to them as compound adjectives but has always been curious about what those are called. What do you call those adjectives!?

Betsy Snyder: Here's a little English lesson from my expert editor:

'Well, you sometimes have taken two verbs to make an adjective, as in "wiggle-wag," which becomes an adjective modifying "tail," and then the whole thing becomes an adjective that modifies "love." "Achy-heartbreak" is an adjective modifying a noun, but, again, you use the whole compound phrase as an adjective to modify "love." Same with "sloppy-smoochy-poochy." So the compound phrases are all being used as adjectives even if there are different parts of speech within them.'
Clear as a bell, right?  

TMT: What are you reading and loving right now (or recently)? Do you feel that you read books differently now that you are writing your own?

Betsy Snyder: Grown-up books? Just read Life of Pi (Yann Martel)—now I'm interested to see how the movie stacks up. 

Children's books? Loving Jon Klassen's books like The Dark (by Lemony Snicket) and This is Not My Hat. Also digging picture-book biographies like A Splash of Red: The Life and Art of Horace Pippin (by Jen Bryant, art by Melissa Sweet) and Who Says Women Can't Be Doctors?: The Story of Elizabeth Blackwell (by Tanya Lee Stone, art by Marjorie Priceman).

I definitely appreciate books differently (and even more so) now that I am writing my own. I can see the genius in a story that is seemingly so simple. I understand how much work and editing happens behind-the-scenes and that what you leave out is just as important as what you put in. I adore when words and images come together perfectly.

TMT: What are your plans for Screen Free Week? Do you have your eye on any specific books you want to unplug and read?

Betsy Snyder: I'd like to unplug and WRITE—
I have some book ideas I hope to spend some time with!

Here is my Screen Free Week pledge:
1. I will pick up a sketchbook, journal or a book instead of the tv remote. 
2. I will limit social media and computer use to work-only.
3. I will read a book with my niece…maybe a few chapters of Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle (Betty MacDonald) orWhatever After (Sarah Mlynowski)?
4. I will handwrite a letter to a friend or relative instead of a typing an email.
5. I will visit the library.
6. I will take at least one walk in the woods.

TMT: At Teach Mentor Texts, we're always promoting literacy and spreading the love of books but especially for Screen Free Week. You are involved in publishing books as an author and an illustrator. How would you finish these three statements?
Betsy Snyder: 
Reading isa vacation to an unknown destination.
Writing is...a chance to share part of yourself.
Illustrating isbringing stories to life.
Thank you to Betsy Snyder and Random House Kids for including us in the Unplug & Read Blog Tour! We are excited to celebrate Screen Free Week and hope you are, too!
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