Cover Image: Basho's Haiku Journeys

Basho's Haiku Journeys

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Member Reviews

Thank you to NetGalley for the advanced electronic copy of this beautiful book. This book is about the life of the 17th century Japanese poet Matsuo Basho who invented haiku. Written entirely in haiku and gorgeously illustrated, this is the perfect book to introduce haiku style to children while simultaneously learning about the person who invented it. I can’t wait to use this wonderful book with my English language learners and would be recommending it to the general and special education classroom teachers.
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This beatifully illustrated picture book tells of a 17th century poet, Matsuo Basho.  He is famous for his haiku poetry and travel journals.  In this biography written in haiku, the author tells of his adventures and humanizes this historic poet.

The reader will be swept in by the imagery, both in written word and in the illustrations.  The idea of reading poetry can sometimes feel intimidating to young readers, but this wonderful book makes it inviting and accessible to all ages.

I highly recommend this book for all ages!
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This was a short, but gorgeously-illustrated book (by the talented Cassandra Rockwood-Ghanem who, I was pleased to see was decently credited on the cover). I loved the dramatic cover, with Basho sweeping back the curtain of night onto a brand new day.

The book briefly follows Japanese poet Basho's travels during his later life after his house burned down. You know what they say? If life hands you lemons, throw them at the son of a bitch who unloaded them on you, but Basho wasn't like that. Instead, he saw homelessness as an opportunity to go walkabout, and he took off on a series of five contemplative trips, some of which were perilous, all of which were inspiring.

Basho did not invent the haiku, but he is credited with being, if you like, the godfather of its enduring popularity. The author, Freeman Ng, tells this whole story in haiku, which in English has come to mean a simple three-line poem, typically associated with the season, which consists of five, seven, and five syllables. In Japanese, the count is seventeen 'on' which is a unit of Japanese speech similar to a syllable. Poems like a haiku, but that don't adhere to the strict haiku rules, are more properly called a 'senryu'.

This book was a delight: nicely-written and with some truly inspiring (and amusing at times) illustrations. I commend it as a worthy read.
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This was a super short but sweet read, I enjoyed learning about Basho and thought his story was portrayed well through the haiku format. The illustrations beautifully complimented the haiku’s and Basho’s tale. In addition, I think this would make an excellent learning tool for use in the classroom, the illustrations are bright and captivating which would help to engage children and provides examples and information about the haiku form all while teaching us about the history of one of Japan’s most famous poets.
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17th century Japanese power Basho is recognised as having invented haiku. Throughout his life he went on several journeys and wrote travel journals. This book, written entirely in haiku, tells us briefly about those journeys. 

If you are wanting a travel book, this is not the book for you. However if you want to introduce children to where haiku came from and show them some examples of nicely worded haiku, then this book is what you’re after. In all the years I’ve taught haiku as a poetic style, I didn’t know about its origins. In future, I will use this book to give pupils a fuller understanding of the haiku form and to add background, cultural detail.

I received a free copy of this book via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
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My son and I read this book together.  We enjoyed hearing about Basho’s journeys, and with other people.  We liked that he saw the good in everything, even if it wasn’t the way he anticipated it. 

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This is a wonderful book for children about the famous 17th century Japanese poet Matsuo Basho and his five journeys. The style of narrative is a clever attempt to tell the story of Basho's journeys in the haiku style which Basho is famous for having created. Haiku's are an art form of their own which many people study for years but as this book is aimed at children I think introducing the 5 -7-5 syllable pattern and nature as a basis provides a perfect starting point to introduce this form of poetry and Basho himself to children. Whilst training to be a teacher I wrote a dissertation on using Haiku to encourage children to write poetry and I would have welcomed a book like this to use with them. The stand out thing about this quite unique book are the utterly beautiful illustrations taken from hand painted pictures. In my opinion they are award winning - so rich and evocative of mood and time. Each of these pictures tells its own story.
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First of all, i loved the vibrant colours of the hand-painted illustrations in the book. The cover itself is visually stunning!. I first heard about Matsuo Basho when i was reading a book on Shinrin-Yoku (Forest Bathing) written by Dr. Qing Li. In that book, there is a sub-topic on natural silence where Basho is said to have gotten the inspirations for his haiku from the observations of nature. 

Hence, this book provides a glimpse of Basho's life and his source of inspirations from his travel journeys in Japan's natural landscapes. What is unique and interesting about this book is it is written in haiku form (the five syllable 5-7-5 pattern) So, the story itself is a haiku about Basho's haiku (or a haiku within another haiku). Next, it is also written in a mini travelogue journal style (stating the beginning of the first year of his journey in 1684 until the end of his journey and his life in 1689,making a total of five years of traveling. Each of traveling years, he had some kind of missions that he wants to accomplish and  places he wishes to go. 

His story begin with him leaving his life in the city and choosing the life of a wayfarer instead. Throughout the five years of his travel, he explored every breadth and depth of the beautiful natural landscapes of Japan and met with various life encounters and discoveries. Thus, this book also uncovers many themes following the ebbs and flows of life such as life and death, birth, impermanence, etc. Each of his natural events made him ruminates about life and death. Consequently, he found the ideas and inspirations for his haiku writing from his travelling. 

In short, this book provides a rather interesting approach in introducing about Basho's life story and his travelling experiences. From this story, readers are given a glance of his source of inspirations in his haiku writings. To me, this book is more suitable for older children and adults than younger children as its haiku style of writing might be quite difficult for a child to understand and decipher its subtle meanings and messages unless with adults or parents guidance and supervision. 

Thank you to the publisher and NetGalley for giving me the opportunity to read the e-ARC copy in exchange for an honest review.
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This was such a creative way to tell a story! I enjoyed reading the history of Basho through Haikus. This book packed so much into the haikus, I feel that I learned a lot about Basho's life and his journey traveling. 

The art was very beautiful, especially the nighttime scenes.
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This is a very problematic book. Told, mostly, in the misunderstood haiku "form" of 5-7-5 "syllables" (not actually what poets in Japan count), it ignores the rules of haiku that Basho himself set forth for haiku. It also conflates a lot of Basho's journeys into merely "haiku journeys," as opposed to the spiritual pilgrimages that they were. There are better books about haiku for children, and while this book attempts to educate kids about Basho, it's content and presentation are so poor that I'm afraid misinformation would supersede the limited educational benefit contained within.
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The first thing a prospective reader should be clear about is that these aren’t Basho’s haiku. Basho wrote travelogues in haibun (a spare form of prose typically matched with one or more haiku,) and so one might expect the poems to be from them. On a related note, while all of the poetry is haiku in form, not all of it is haiku in substance. That is to say, it’s all presented in a three-line 5 – 7 – 5 syllable format, but some of it reads like a prose description of events chopped up into 5 – 7 – 5 syllable bit-sized pieces. That’s not to say that there aren’t many poems that do have the feel of true haiku, presenting spare natural imagery juxtaposed but not explained, analyzed, or judgement-laden. It seemed like the further into the book I got, the more of the poems felt like proper haiku.

	It is a children’s book, so I don’t think it’s a major concern that it focuses on the most rudimentary elements of haiku (i.e. syllable count and nature imagery) at the expense of subtler elements. The Zen nature of Basho’s haiku might be challenging for a young reader. I addition to the colorful and whimsical artwork, showing prominent places from Basho’s travels, there is a single page explanation of haiku to help get kids writing their own. 

	If you’re looking for a book to get a child interested in nature, haiku, or travel, you should give this one a look.
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It's a pretty book or more like, majestic. Beautifully crafted and had taken note of the stunning views and picturesque of all surround Basho. It tells about Basho's journey and how he creates his haiku. It raises a little bit of disappointment like missing a bit of soul, such always occurs when translating haiku to a different language. Still, worth an applaud 👏🏻
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This book made me so happy. As an admirer of Basho, I'm so glad there is now a children's book about him. I liked all the haikus and illustrations. Excellent work!
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A very calming and restful book of haiku poetry and simple drawings. My 8 year old nephew enjoyed it a lot but the overall Zen-ness was a bit beyond him. However he was engaged by the story. A lot of skill has gone into telling the story in the haiku format and there is a page explaining the haiku form at the back of the book. Overall this is a pleasant little book for children.
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I absolutely adored this sweet picture book biography of Basho’s life. Told completely in wonderfully poignant yet accessible haiku, the words were accompanied with a perfect counterpoint of beautiful illustrations. Highly recommend for readers of all ages.
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I’d like to thank NetGalley and the publisher for this e-ARC. All opinions are my own.

I learned about Basho during my senior year in college, so I was interested to read this graphic novel.  The illustrations are beautiful—they give a vivid image of what the haiku are saying as they tell the story of Basho “wandering around Old Japan.”

This book is very short—and I can’t decide if I like that or not. This is a book to introduce children to Basho, so maybe it is the appropriate length for the targeted age group.

At the end, the author explains (in prose) how Basho is famous for writing his own haiku, and after explaining the structure of a haiku, encourages the reader to write one of their own.

Interesting read.
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I loved the concept of Haiku but never got to read it since I didn't know where to start. Thankfully, Basho's Haiku Journey gave me the first break to the world of Haiku. 

The book is beautiful- both the illustrations as well as writing. The book has an overall soothing vibe to it. Would love to read this book with a cup of tea on a rainy day.
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I must admit, before reading Basho’s Haiku Journeys I knew next to nothing about Matsuo Basho, the Japanese poet who lived in the seventeenth century and is credited with inventing the haiku. For those of you unfamiliar with the form, a haiku is a short-form poem most often containing seventeen syllables in three lines, with five in the first line, seven in the second line, and five in the third and last line. Most haiku are about nature and haiku purists insist that only haiku about nature can be considered true haiku, but the form has evolved to include other topics.

For most of his life, Basho lived a comfortable and cosmopolitan life in Edo, which was then the capital city of Japan. He made his living teaching and writing, but there was an unfulfilled longing inside him—to see more, to experience the vibrancy of life more fully. He lived in a hut outside Edo that his students had built for him, and one night it caught fire and burned to the ground.

Most people would feel devastated at the loss of all their earthly possessions, but Basho felt liberated. He wandered into the woods, basking in the elation he felt at his change in fortune. It was then he decided to adopt an itinerant lifestyle, beginning the first of what would become five long journeys. From 1684-1689, Basho would traverse the length of his country and write about the beauty of the natural world in books that would later become classics of Japanese literature.

Ng honors Basho by telling his story in haiku form and the result is nothing short of breathtaking. One of the hallmarks of a good book is that it leaves you wanting more and in that regard Ng has more than succeeded. Cassandra Rockwood Ghanem’s gorgeous hand-painted illustrations add depth and clarity to Basho’s story. This book is a must-purchase for children’s librarians, language arts teachers, and parents and guardians who want their children to be curious and creative citizens of the world.
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A pleasant enough book, certainly to look at, but one that will leave many a young reader nonplussed.  In a narrative collection of haikus, our author has tried to introduce Basho to the primary school classroom, and convey all five of the journeys and treks he notably wrote about.  But in providing haiku that are not quite, for want of a better word, Zen enough, the book actually manages to become too Zen.  Basho is aware, in planning the third trip, that he hasn't seen all that was available for him to see on his first – but all we watch him witnessing is a hut, and then a baby deer, and then he's gearing up for the fourth!  I wanted this to succeed, despite the doubts I had on requesting it that it could – and I'm afraid to say I don't see it having much mileage.  Unlike its subject, of course.
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Fascinating and beautiful!  The haiku describing Basho's journeys were simple, elegant, and almost meditative.   This would be a great way to introduce students to the concept of haiku since it successfully demonstrates both the typical form and feeling that is generally the goal.

As appealing as the text was, the illustrations are the real standout.  They're breathtaking and vivid and will definitely pull students in to engage with the text.   This would be an excellent addition to school and classroom libraries for almost any grade level.   

Many thanks to the publisher and NetGalley for the opportunity to read and review!
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