Blog Tour with Review and Author Guest Post!: Won Ton and Chopstick: A Cat and Dog Tale Told in Haiku by Lee Wardlaw



Won Ton and Chopstick: A Cat and Dog’s Tale Told in Haiku
Author: Lee Wardlaw
Illustrator: Eugene Yelchin
Published: March 17, 2015 by Henry Holt and Co. (BYR)

Goodreads Summary: Won Ton has a happy life with his Boy, until…
Ears perk. Fur prickles.
Belly low, I creep…peek…FREEZE!
My eyes full of Doom.

A new puppy arrives, and nothing will be the same.Told entirely in haiku and with plenty of catitude, the story of how Won Ton faces down the enemy is a fresh and funny twist on a familiar rivalry.

Ricki’s Review and Teachers’ Tools for Navigation: A Review in Haikus:

Quite Adorable
Fun for All, Especially
Middle Grade and Teen

Will Teach the Crowds to Love Words
Fantastic Must-Read

Recommended for
Use as a Mentor Text for
Creative Writing

The Illustrations
Capture the Fun of this Tale
Or Should I Say Tail?

Kellee’s Review and Teachers’ Tools for Navigation: Well, Ricki sure one-upped me on this one! But I think she showed a really great example of what you can do with this book. I think it is a perfect introduction to haiku. It makes poetry accessible and fun which is the opposite of what students think when they think of poetry. I actually shared the first Won Ton book with my class at the time, and we wrote our own haiku about our favorite animal. Lee Wardlaw also includes very descriptive and specific vocabulary which would lead to a wonderful conversation about word choice and imagery.

I loved the first Won Ton book (see my review here), and I was happy to see that Lee Wardlaw had written a second so I could see what Won Ton was up to now. I am completely a cat person, so I love how Lee captures the nuances and thoughts of Won Ton.

Bonus Features: Activity Kit for Won Ton and Chopstick and Teacher’s Guide for Won Ton and Chopstick

Discussion Questions: How do the author’s haikus add to the complexity of this tale?; How does the vocabulary enhance the story?; What did you learn about friendship?; How do the illustrations enhance the themes of this book?; How does Won Ton’s feelings for Chopstick change throughout the book?

We Flagged: 

“Master of escape!
High-flying, dog-defying
acrobatic cat!”

Read This if You Loved: Won Ton by Lee Wardlaw; One Leaf Rides the Wind by Celeste Davidson Mannis; If Not for the Cat by Jack Prelutsky; I Haiku You by Betsy E. Snyder; Dogku by Andrew Clements

Check out Won Ton and Chopstick at the Other Stops the Blog Tour:
Mon, Mar 30
Library Fanatic
Tues, Mar 31
Kid Lit Frenzy
Wed, Apr 1
Teach Mentor Texts
Thurs, Apr 2
Fri, Apr 3
A Foodie Bibliophile in Wanderlust
Sat, Apr 4
Booking Mama
Mon, Apr 6
The Children’s Book Review
Tues, Apr 7
5 Minutes for Books
Wed, Apr 8
Cracking the Cover
Thurs, Apr 9
Unleashing Readers
Fri, Apr 10
Word Spelunker
Sat, Apr 11
Bermuda Onion
 Recommended For: 

readaloudbuttonsmall  classroomlibrarybuttonsmall

Author Guest Post:

“Eight Things I Learned from My Cats about Writing Haiku”

by Lee Wardlaw

1. There is no yesterday; there is no tomorrow. There is only you, scratching me under my chin right now.

Haiku poems focus on a right-this-instant experience—or from a memory of that experience. So remind your students to write in the present tense.

2. When poised at a hole, remain still—and use your ears, eyes, nose, whiskers and mouth to detect a lurking gopher.

Observation is crucial to haiku. It’s hard for children today to quiet their minds, especially when they’re constantly bombarded with TV, internet, iPhones, video games, etc. So take them outside, away from all of that! Encourage them to sit alone on the playground, under a tree, on a sunny bench, whatever, and use all five senses to absorb, appreciate, and anchor the moment.

3. Be patient. Then, when least expected—pounce!

Haiku captures ONE moment in time, revealing a surprise . . . or evoking a response of a-ha! or ahhh. This pounce helps the reader awaken and experience an ordinary moment or thing in an extraordinary way.

4. Most cats have 18 toes—unless we’re polydactyl; then we might have 20, 22, even 28 toes!

Japanese haiku feature a total of seventeen beats or sound units: five in the first line, seven in the second, five again in the third. But this 5-7-5 form doesn’t apply to American haiku because of differences in English phonics, vocabulary, grammar, and syntax. Too many teachers focus only on the 5-7-5 because they use haiku as lesson about syllables. Please don’t! When children force an unnecessary adjective or adverb (or a bunch of adverbs) into a haiku simply to meet the 17-beats rule, it ruins the flow, brevity, meaning, and beauty of a poem. It’s not a poem at all, just a laundry list. You end up with poems like this:

My cat is so cute.

He’s really, really, really

cute and so fluffy.

Encourage your students to experiment with any pattern they prefer (e.g. 2-3-2, 5-6-4, 4-7-3)—provided the structure remains three short lines. Remember: what’s most important here is not syllables but the essence of a chosen moment.

5. When I’m out, I want in; when I’m in, I want out. Mostly, I want out. That’s where the rats, gophers, lizards, snakes, bugs and birds are.

Traditional haiku focus on themes of nature, and always include a kigo or “season” word. This doesn’t mean you must be explicit about the weather or time of year. A sensorial hint (e.g. a green leaf indicates spring; a russet leaf indicates fall) is all that’s needed.

6. What part of meow don’t you understand?

Tease a cat and it won’t bother to holler—it will bite and scratch. It shows its annoyance rather than tells. Good haiku follows suit. Instead of explaining, haiku should paint a picture in the reader’s mind of the feeling it evokes. So encourage children to show the reader how cute and fluffy their cat is instead of just telling us.

7. If you refuse to play with me, I will snooze on your keyboard, flick pens off your desk, and gleefully shed into your printer.

Yes, haiku has “rules,” but remember to play! Encourage students to use words like toys, to frolic with them in new ways to portray images, emotions, themes, conflicts and character.

8. When in doubt, nap.

Good writing comes from revising. But before working on a second (or third . . . or fourth!) draft, both the students and their haiku need a “nap.” Set aside the poems for a few days (a few weeks is even better!). What needs revising will be much more obvious if the poems are read again with rested eyes, alert ears, and a fresh mind.

 About Lee Wadlaw:

Lee Wardlaw swears that her first spoken word was “kitty.” Since then, she’s shared her life with 30 cats (not all at the same time) and published 30 books for young readers, including Won Ton: A Cat Tale Told in Haiku, recipient of the Lee Bennett Hopkins Poetry Award and many other honors. Lee has a B.A. in Education, an AMI-Primary Diploma from the Montessori Institute of San Diego, and is finishing her M.Ed. in Education/Child Development. She lives in Santa Barbara with her family.


**Thank you to Barbara at Blue Slip Media for providing copies for review and giveaway!**

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