Lion of the Sky: Haiku for All Seasons

by Laura Purdie Salas (Author) Mercè López (Illustrator)

Lion of the Sky: Haiku for All Seasons
Reading Level: 2nd − 3rd Grade

You gasp as I roar, my mane exploding, sizzling lion of the sky! Haiku meet riddles in this wonderful collection from Laura Purdie Salas.

The poems celebrate the seasons and describe everything from an earthworm to a baseball to an apple to snow angels, alongside full-color illustrations.

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Kirkus Reviews

"In this spirited collaboration, Salas and López present 24 suggestive poetic snapshots chronicling the cycle of a year. Highlighting season-appropriate objects for spring, fall, summer, and winter, Salas magnifies the spareness of the haiku form by turning each concentrated first-person portrait into a riddle as she tantalizingly omits naming the subject describing itself. Meanwhile López offers young and pre-readers florid visual hints, depicting in deft brush strokes and lush colors the author's hidden subjects. Combined, these artists render objects gentle as summer's fireflies ('fire in our bellies / we FLICKER-FLASH in twilight-- / rich meadow of stars') or winter's snowflakes ('I'm cold confetti / falling from a crystal sky, / blanketing the town, ' here shown as a white-roofed town in a snow globe painted against a wintry verdigris sky spackled with haphazard white blots) or bold as a fall jack-o'-lantern ('I perch on the porch, / spooky face frozen in place, / fire BURNING inside'--glowering large with flaming orange eyes as the finger of a ghostly trick-or-treater rings the doorbell in the background). What sets this volume apart from similar haiku explorations of the seasons is the tight synthesis of visual object and oblique verbal depiction, making for both wonderfully contemplative experiences of each illustrated poem and the seamless progression of nature's cycle through the year. Richly rewarding and clever: a visually arresting, inventive treatment of a popular subject."--starred, Kirkus Reviews

Publishers Weekly

Organized in four sections beginning with spring, Salas's lovely haiku are written in the voices of animals and organic or inanimate objects related to the seasons. "Fire in our bellies, / we FLICKER-FLASH in twilight--/ rich meadow of stars," speak the summer's fireflies. Each haiku contains a riddle element--readers must guess the narrator (in an author's note, Salas refers to the form as a "riddle-ku"). It's not always clear who, or what, is speaking, but López's evocative acrylics visually communicate the imagery within the poems. "I'm a WRIGGLING tube, / soft underground tunneler--/ I fear early birds," one announces. The small bird hovering over a hole clues readers in to the speaker's identity: a worm. The book's meditative tone and resonant images invite readers to embrace new ways of seeing the world around them. Ages 5-9. (Apr.)

Copyright 2019 Publishers Weekly, LLC Used with permission.

School Library Journal

Gr 1-4--A sleek bird kite flown by a child in springtime kicks off this poetic collection of seasonal objects, animals, and activities. Six poems per season invite audience observation and enjoyment. First-time readers may not realize that each haiku is also a riddle with a list of answers found at the end of the book. Only in her concluding author's note does Salas describe the structure she calls "riddle-ku." Readers are meant to guess the identity of the non-human narrator in each poem. She also notes that the non-human voices make these "mask poems." Simple instructions then encourage readers to compose their own riddle-ku. The expansive acrylic scenes featuring children, animals and/or objects offer visual cues about the narrators. For instance, the leaves talk as a child happily bounces in a pile of them. Salas often sets a playful tone and is adept with language. Her diction and syntax are simple and fun. Paired with other seasonal materials, this book offers ample discussion and teaching opportunities with individual readers or groups. VERDICT This well-crafted work contains versatile possibilities for classrooms and libraries.-Margaret Bush, Simmons College, Boston

Copyright 2019 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

Review quotes

Laura Purdie Salas
Laura Purdie Salas is the author of more than 130 books for kids, including Bookspeak! Poems About Books (Minnesota Book Award, NCTE Notable, Bank Street Best Books, Eureka! Gold Medal, and more), Stampede! Poems to Celebrate the Wild Side of School (Finalist, Minnesota Book Award), and In the Middle of the Night: Poems from a Wide-Awake House (NCTE Notable Poetry Book). Poetry and rhyming nonfiction books are her favorite things to write. Visit

Angela Matteson is the illustrator of Grumbles from the Town and In the Middle of the Night. After graduating from the Columbus College of Art & Design, a love of pattern and design led her to work as a greeting card and gift-packaging designer. Her paintings have been shown in galleries, both locally in the Midwest and nationally. Visit
Lexile Measure
Guided Reading Level
Millbrook Press (Tm)
Publication date
April 20, 2019
BISAC categories
JNF042000 - Juvenile Nonfiction | Poetry | General
JNF013090 - Juvenile Nonfiction | Concepts | Seasons
Library of Congress categories
American poetry
Children's poetry, American

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