This is a 2001 honor book for the Lee Bennett Hopkins Poetry Award:
Janeczko, Paul B, comp. 2000. Stone Bench in an Empty Park. New York: Orchard.
Here is a Digital Trailer for STONE BENCH IN AN EMPTY PARK created by graduate student Lisa Donovan.
Here is a Readers Guide for STONE BENCH IN AN EMPTY PARK created by graduate student Kirsten Dees.
Janeczko, Paul B. 2000. STONE BENCH IN AN EMPTY PARK. Photographs by Henri Silberman. New York: Orchard Books. ISBN 9780531332597
Recommended Age Levels: Grade 4-Young Adult
Summary of Book
This is a collection of 31 poems written in a haiku format. A haiku is typically written about an aspect of nature and would describe a picture from the country. The author as changed the haiku, to bring to life the sounds, sights, and action going on in the city. “All night long light shines in the eyes of the carousel ponies” (16). The author shares his reasoning with the reader in the introduction of why he picked this setting for his book, “But the city has its own wonderful scenes, and I gathered the poems for this collection because I wanted young writers to see that poetry and nature abound in the city as well as in the suburbs or country” (4). The photos in the book are in black in white and are breathtaking. The light and dark contrast in the photos draws the eye of the reader to the photographs. One picture as a ferry speeding across the bay with the twin towers rising in the background touching the clouds. On the opposite page is the haiku, “Full moon shining squeezes between skyscrapers fluorescent” (32). The word fluorescent is written vertical down the page to represent the skyscraper. This is a beautiful book written about the beauty of nature in the city. Each haiku brings the photograph to life with its dynamic words.
SCHOOL LIBRARY JOURNAL:
“For decades, 17-syllable, 3-line Japanese haiku has grown in popularity in America. Janeczko expands its traditional subjects and themes beyond nature and the seasons to encompass the city and its own wonderful scenes. As a result, 20 contributors to this well-designed book looked carefully at city streets, people, and activities to produce enormously appealing selections. Stickball, hard hats, screeching trash trucks, swings, and car washes all are celebrated with powerful and sometimes surprising imagery. High-quality, black-and-white photographs capture the cityscapes consisting of cranes, heaped garbage cans, and assorted scenes that reflect the themes of the haiku. For Silberman, starting with the written poems was a new challenge. "Instead of letting my surroundings guide the subjects of my photographs," he writes in a brief note, "I let the haiku guide me." The design of this small book is balanced and uncluttered, generally featuring one haiku with an accompanying photograph on each page. Students and teachers alike will be drawn to this book again and again.”
“Here is an iconoclastic haiku collection that breaks many traditional "rules," as compiler Janeczko admits in his introduction. The poems, written by Nikki Grimes, J. Patrick Lewis, Issa, and less familiar names, do not always follow the standard haiku pattern, yet all follow the spirit of the form. Instead of customary bucolic reflections, the selections reflect urban sights, sounds, and moments. Henri Silberman's black-and-white photographs are stunning. Some of them mirror the poetry so closely; they could have been the poet's inspiration. This elegant verbal and visual gallery will provoke thought and stimulate creativity as it introduces urban charms to rural children and inspires city kids to recognize natural beauty in their neighborhoods.”
• ALA Notable Books For Children 2001
• Lee Bennett Hopkins Honor 2001
Question to Ask Before Reading
Introduce the book to the children by showing them the cover and telling them the author and photographers name and also show them the photograph on the back cover.
• Ask the children if they know what a haiku is? If no one knows what a haiku is ask them what they think it might be?
• Ask the listeners where the haiku originated from?
• Ask the children what they think the book is about and where the setting is?
• Once the settings is decided ask the children what photographs of the city do they think are in the book with a haiku?
• Ask the audience what type of sounds, sights, and things happen in the city that might be mentioned in the text?
Suggestions For Reading Aloud
• Have the children sit in a circle. Pass the book from person to person letting them each read one page which would include one poem or two and then show everyone the photograph that goes with the poem as they take turns reading.
• Divide the children into groups. Let them pick one poem out of the book that they all believe is the best poem in the book. Let each group read aloud the poem they picked to everyone else and share the picture that goes with it. Then have them tell the rest of the children why they picked this particular poem.
• When the children are in a circle pass around the book and have them describe the motion, sight, smells, and sounds of the photograph that they see when it is their turn to hold the book.
Follow Up Activities
• The poems are haikus about nature being beautiful in the city. Ask the children to write a few sentences about something beautiful in the city that they have seen. Include motions, sights, smells, and sounds of the item in nature they are writing about.
• Have the listeners write a haiku about something from nature that they think is wonderful and beautiful. A haiku has to be about nature, written in present tense, have one word or two relating to a season, and requires seventeen syllables in line of five, seven, and five syllables. (This activity is for grades 9 to 12)
• The photographs in the book are beautiful images of nature in the city. Show the children a photograph out of the book and have them write about why that picture is beautiful, how it relates to nature, and what does the picture make them think and feel? Does it trigger any sounds, smells, or emotions? After everyone is done have them share what they wrote?
• This book describes and shows the different seasons the city goes through. Have the children pick their favorite season. Have them research the season that they pick. Answer the following questions: When does the season start and end? What months does the season take place in? Why is it their favorite season? What are the key characteristic of the season? What are the differences of the season in the city and the country?
• The book describes in the text and shows in the photographs different parts of the seasons and the weather that goes along with them. Develop a list of questions about the seasons and the weather. For example what is the coldest place on earth, hottest, snowiest, and rainiest? Find the answers to these questions. Ask the children if they know the answers to these questions. Give them clues and if they don’t know the answers share them with them. Then ask the children to each write down a few questions they have about the seasons and the weather. Once they have written down the questions take them into the library to find the answers. When everyone has found the answers to their questions put them in a pile. Ask the children the questions that they have written down. Remind them if this is their questions they can answer if no one else knows.
• From the web site Weather Wiz Kids print off some of the Weather Games for the children to learn more about the weather in a fun way. The types of sheets offered are: word search, coloring sheets, maze, word jumble, and crossword puzzle. The URL for this site is: http://www.weatherwizkids.com/weather-games.htm.
• Give the children each a piece of construction paper. Hand out magazines and tell them to cut out pictures of the weather, seasons, natures, and the city. Provide glue and have them create a collage with the images they cut out on the paper.
• Have the children each bring in a shoebox. In the box have them create a diorama of their favorite scene of nature whether it is in the city or country. Provide magazines, modeling clay, construction paper, markers, glue, yarn, popsicle sticks, and any other materials the children request to complete their scene.
• Instruct children to go home and look at pictures that their family has taken. Ask them to bring their favorite photo back and make sure it includes nature or one of the seasons. Have them use the picture to make a greeting card. Paste the picture on the outside and decorate the front of the card. Then let them write a message inside to a loved one to take home and give to that person. Supplies needed: glue, construction paper, markers, glitter, and a variety of stickers.
Related Web Sites
Kid Zone Poetry: Haiku
(This site provides children with information about haiku poetry. It contains three printable worksheets and examples of the seasons as haiku poetry.)
Haiku Poetry: Japan Past and Present
(The site contains information about the history of Japan and how it developed haiku poetry, an introduction to haikus, and many examples.)
Tabstart Haiku Poems For Kids
(This site holds a variety of websites that have information about haiku poetry for kids. There are haikus written for children and even by them.)
Fiction Books about Nature, Seasons, and the Weather
Ehrlich, Gretel. 1999. A Blizzard Year: Timmy’s Almanac of the Seasons. New York: Hyperion Books For Children. ISBN 0786803649
Glaser, Linda. 2002. Its Spring! Connecticut: Millbrook Press. ISBN 0761317600
Ryan, Pam Munoz. 2010. The Dreamer. New York: Scholastic Press. ISBN 9780439269704
Nonfiction Books about Nature, Seasons, and the Weather
Farndan, John. 2001. Weather. New York: Benchmark Books. ISBN 076141089
Hewitt, Sally. 2000. All Year Round. Connecticut: Copper Beech Books. ISBN 0761312080
Milord, Susan. 1997. The Kids Nature Book: 365 Indoor/Outdoor Activities & Experiences. Milwaukee: Gareth Stevens. ISBN 086819675
Poetry Related to Nature, Seasons, and the Weather
Lewis, Patrick J. 1995. Black Swan/White Crow: Haiku. New York: Anthenum Books For Young Readers. ISBN 0689318995
Livingston, Myra Cohn. 1997. Cricket Never Does: Collection of Haiku & Tanka. New York: Margaret K. McElderry Books. ISBN 0689811233
Weather Report: Poems. 1993. New York: Wordsong. ISBN 1563971011
Yolen, Jane. 2003. Least Things: Poems About Small Nature. New York: Wordsong. ISBN 1590780981