This is the 2011 winner of the Claudia Lewis Poetry Award:
Guyku: A Year of Haiku for Boys by Bob Raczka (Houghton Mifflin, 2010)
Here is a Digital Trailer for GUYKU created by graduate student Samantha Fleming.
Here is a Readers' Guide for GUYKU created by graduate student Monica Cammack.
Raczka, Bob. 2010. Guyku: A Year of Haiku for Boys. Ill. by Peter H. Reynolds. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. ISBN 9780547240039
Recommended Age Levels 5-8
Summary of Book
Boys love nature and being outdoors during all seasons. Bob Raczka’s book Guyku goes through the seasons as boys enjoy exploring the world around them. Each season has six haikus that celebrate the simple joys that boys experience outside, enjoying nature. Peter H. Reynolds’ illustrations complement the haiku poems. The illustrations are separated into color schemes based on the seasons. Spring starts off in green tones and it leads into summer, which has yellow tones. The illustrations are simple but also expressive. Boys as well as girls will find a lot they have in common with Guyku.
Review Excerpts / Awards
2011 Claudia Lewis Poetry Award
2011 Notable Children’s Books
In 24 poems, characterized by an economy of language, nature serves imagination. Boys pound cattails, fish with hotdogs, and bury a brother in leaves. Dapples of watercolor highlight the minimal ink line drawings to announce the shifts in seasons and in nature's playthings—whether snowflakes, grasshoppers, rocks, seeds, or even icicle swords.
-Journal of Children’s Literature
These accessible poems will appeal to anyone who wants to celebrate moments of mischief, fun, wonder, and delight inspired by nature's ever-game playmates: snow, leaves, stars, and puddles. Poems for each season are coupled with Reynolds's charmingly warm and loose pen-and-ink cartoons, accented with a touch of color, that bring the boys and their compatriots (or dry nemeses) to life. Together with the art, the haiku irresistibly capture moments of a boy's experience in nature
-Natural History Magazine
Illustrator Reynolds depicts the glee and energy of the boy characters as well as natural elements, such as a puddle with a reflection, in just a few deft lines. The pages are clean white, the book's shape is small and square, and each poem is handwritten, accompanied by a delicate and funny two-color illustration. Raczka and Reynolds are a winning team, and the results will start many boy (and girl) readers thinking about turning their own experience into a seventeen-syllable poem.
-Horn Book Magazine
This wonderful collection will resonate with all children as they recognize their earnest and sometimes misdirected antics in each poem. The pen, ink, and watercolor illustrations mirror the simplicity of each entry and capture the expressions of the boys and their adventures honestly. This is haiku at its most fun. All libraries should grab it for their collections.
-School Library Journal
Questions to Ask Before Reading
*Show students the front cover and ask them, “What do you think the book Guyku will be about? Why do you think the book is called Guyku?
*What do you see the boy doing on the front cover? Why doesn’t he just let go of the kite?
*What fun activities do you enjoy playing outside?
*What is your favorite season? What do you like to do during that season?
Suggestions for Reading Poems Aloud
*Form students into groups of three. Have each student read a line aloud to the class.
*Choose students to read a haiku poem aloud and lead class to clap the syllables in the poem.
*Have students slowly read a haiku poem twice to the class. Students will determine what in nature the poem is discussing.
Follow Up Activities
• The boys in the book Guyku love nature and exploring. Take students outside with their science journals while they explore nature. Have them observe either an object or animal. Then have the students draw their observations in their science journals and include a written description of the object. Invite students to create their own haiku based on their object.
• Bugs are also a favorite fascination for boys. Just like the boy who held the grasshopper found that bugs can be ticklish when you hold them. The teacher can do a bug observation with the students. The teacher can order ladybugs. The ladybugs can be kept in a mesh ladybug home. The students can learn and observe ladybug behaviors and characteristics for a few days. When it is time to release the ladybugs, the teacher will give each student a ladybug to release back out into nature. Students will be delighted to feel how ladybug feet tickle as they walk all over the students’ hands. The teacher can invite students to recite the poem about the boy who held onto the grasshopper but let it go because it tickled.
• Children are intrigued by the stars. The boy in the poem was “connecting the dots” with them. The school can invite parents to a “Reading Under the Stars” night. Parents and children can bring their warm blankets. Teachers can be set up at different areas and read to groups of students about the stars and planets. Teachers can ask students questions like, “Do you ever look at the sky and play Connect the Dot? Do you count the stars? What do you think about when you look at the stars?” The haiku poem from the book would be a good introduction before the book is read. Also, if the local college has an astronomy department, the school can invite them to speak to the students at an assembly. They can come to “Reading Under the Stars” and provide a large telescope.
• Puddles are irresistible to children. The boy in the haiku poem thought the puddle might be telling him to splash his unsuspecting sister. Have students write about whom would they want to splash and why. The class can put their stories into a class book and title it Puddles. For example, “I would splash my little brother. He is always annoying me.”
• Kites are very fun to fly especially on a windy day. The boy in the poem had to hold tight to his kite on very windy day. Have students create their own haiku about their experiences with a kite or favorite activity on a windy day (Example: blow bubbles).
• We were all once children. Have students do a generational interview with a grandparent or a person from an older generation. Students can discover what games they played and what life was like for them. Students can write a generational story and share it with the class.
• Boys love to fly kites. They especially love to build things. The class can work together to design and build a kite using plastic bag, trash bag or newspaper.
• Boys are intrigued by animal tracks. The boys in the poem pretended they were deer and followed the deer tracks, pretending they made them. Students can make their own tracks. The teacher can get a long butcher paper. She can paint students’ feet and have them walk the butcher paper to create tracks.
• Children are fascinated with nature. The teacher can give students magazines and have them find and cut out things from nature and paste it on paper to create a collage.
Bob Raczka’s Website
Peter H. Reynolds’ Website
The Official Haiku for Guys Headquarters
Children’s Haiku Garden
Two Dragonflies—Haiku and Music for Children
Haiku- over 10,000 literary links, poetry pages and resources for writers
Haiku Books for Children
Clements, Andrew. 2007. Dogku. Ill. by Tim Bowers. New York: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers.
Mannis, Celeste Davidson. One Leaf Rides the Wind: Counting in a Japanese Garden. Ill. by Susan Kathleen Hartung. New York: Viking.
Prelutsky, Jack. 2004. If Not for the Cat. Ill. by Ted Rand. New York: Greenwillow Books.
Rosen, Michael J. 2011. The Hound Dog’s Haiku: and Other Poems for Dog Lovers. Ill. by Mary Azarian. Somerville, Massachusetts: Candlewick Press.
Books About Exploring Nature
Branley, Franklyn. 1997. Down Comes the Rain. Ill. by James Graham Hale. New York: HarperCollins Publishers.
Cole, Joanna. 1998. The Magic School Bus Inside a Beehive. Ill. by Bruce Degan. New York: Scholastic, Inc.
Selsam, Millicent. 1998. Big Tracks, Little Tracks: Following Animal Prints. Ill. by Marlene Hill Donnelly. New York: HarperCollins Publishers.
Yolen, Jane. 2000. Color Me a Rhyme: Nature Poems for Young People. Ill. by Jason Stemple. Honesdale, Pennsylvania: Wordsong/Boyds Mills Press.
Books About Seasons
Gibbons, Gail. 1996. The Reasons for the Seasons. Ill. by Gail Gibbons. New York: Holiday House, Inc.
Rockwell, Anne F. Four Seasons Make a Year. Ill. by Megan Halsey. New York: Walker & Co.
Rosenstiehl, Agnes. 2007. Silly Lilly and the Four Seasons. Ill. by Agnes Rosenstiehl. New York: Toon Books.
Zolotow, Charlotte. 2002. Seasons: A Book of Poems. Ill. by Erik Blegvad. New York: HarperCollins Publishers.