I was very excited to review “Morning, Sunshine!” It was described as being a “series of haiku” that “guides readers from pre-dawn to sunrise, showing how environments everywhere flutter with life!” I’m a sucker for a good haiku and my son LOVES learning about nature, so this was a no-brainer.
My first impression when I received the book was that the illustrations, by John Bajet, are deep and rich in color. The word that kept popping into my head was “sumptuous” like a good rich chocolate cake. I just want to soak in the vibrant illustrations of the different early morning scenes. Maybe it’s the no-holds-barred saturation of the deep blues and purples of the pre-dawn skies that drew me in so completely. The plant and animal life just “pop” against the darker backgrounds with more defined lines than you usually see in children’s books. The illustrations just seem so present on the page that children can’t help but be brought into the world of the creatures.
The beauty of the book doesn’t end with the illustrations. Keely Parrack somehow managed to make what is essentially a science book for kids, a journey through simply elegant 3-line poems with interesting facts about the haiku’s subject as follow-up. In case you need a reminder, a haiku is a form of Japanese poetry. There are three lines consisting of 5 syllables-7 syllables-5 syllables, and they don’t rhyme. I think introducing kids to this form of poetry is genius. I have always thought that the beauty of the haiku is that anyone can write one. You don’t need to be witty or have a huge vocabulary, you just need to count to 17.
Again, don’t let the pretty pictures or poetry fool you. You learn with this book. There are not-so-common vocabulary words used throughout the book. Keely refuses to talk down to these kids and I appreciate it. What I appreciate even more is that those words are highlighted and there is a glossary in the back so when your child asks you “What’s a binky?” you can flip to the back of the book and tell them with confidence that a binky is “when rabbits leap and twist in the air with joy.” The kids learn interesting facts. YOU learn interesting facts.
This book delighted me to no end. While I was expecting a story about animals waking up, I found a gorgeous book with interesting scientific facts and some poetry mixed in to create a well-rounded educational guide through nature.
“Morning, Sunshine!” comes out on March 24, 2020 and is available for pre-order through several outlets.
Keely Parrack has an extensive background in elementary education and is Co-Regional Advisor for the Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators, San Francisco North & East Bay.
John Bajet is currently a designer on the Cartoon Network Show Tom & Jerry, and Art Director at Renegade Animation.