The Northland Beckons

An Illustrated Haiku Journey

Children - Non-Fiction
48 Pages
Reviewed on 03/17/2024
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    Book Review

Reviewed by Philip Van Heusen for Readers' Favorite

When I saw The Northland Beckons: An Illustrated Haiku Journey by Sandra and Sofia Hisakuni, I really wanted to read it. I have not read haikus since I learned how to write them in the seventh grade (late 1960s). For those new to the art of haiku, this is an excellent book to introduce you to this concise form of poetry. However, Sandra Hisakuni goes a step further and adds prose after each poem. This book shows readers the unbounded beauty of the parks north of Ontario. Reading Sandra’s words gives the feeling of actually being in the wilderness and enjoying the various wildlife found there. Along with the poems and prose, Sandra’s daughter, Sofia, provides beautiful artwork, highlighting the multiple animals and scenes in the Northland. Readers will enjoy the beauty of nature shared with the mastery of words as they feel at one with the author and illustrator.

As an English teacher, Sandra Hisakuni knows how to use words to share her delight found in nature, and she does so expertly in The Northland Beckons. Sofia Hisakuni is an accomplished artist who masterfully illustrates the abundance of nature they experience on their camping journeys. Haiku is an ancient Japanese word art form that is as inspiring now as it was hundreds of years ago. Sandra and Sofia love the wilderness, and that love shines through the writing and illustrations. I cannot recommend this book highly enough; if I could give the book a six-star rating, I would. I appreciated Sandra’s writing as it transported me to places I have never been. I hope this mother-daughter team creates more nature books in the future.

Courtnee Turner Hoyle

The Northland Beckons by Sandra Hisakuni is a book filled with haikus and an explanation of the sights and sounds the author has encountered. During visits to Ontario, Canada, Hisakuni and her children saw many animals that she describes, first with a haiku, and then in a text detailing the experience. The text after the haikus is filled with biological, ecological, and other scientific information. Her daughter, Sofia Hisakuni, illustrates her memories of flying fowl and curious wildlife, and Hisakuni shares one of her daughter's award-winning haikus. After the story, Hisakuni expresses her love of Japanese poetry and scenery and compares the nature in that country to their family vacation to Canada.

Sandra Hisakuni's vision of the Canadian landscape will capture your interest, and her short poems bring you to the area she describes, even if you haven't visited it. The rhythm runs like silk over your ears as it is read aloud and delivered in a peaceful atmosphere. If you read only the haikus in the book to children at bedtime, the tranquility in the lines will ease them into a gentle slumber as they stare at the colorful pages. Adults will enjoy the depictions of wildlife and the visions the words conjure as they read the book. Sofia Hisakuni and her mother have lived in Japan, and they searched for natural beauty when they returned to North America. This book is their way of sharing their awe-inspiring adventure. Lovely words and images await you in The Northland Beckons.

Delene Vrey

The Northland Beckons: An Illustrated Haiku Journey by Sandra Hisakuni is an illustrated children’s book in which the author gives vivid visual imagery through Haiku snapshots. The author takes the young reader on an adventure to the Boundary Waters of Minnesota and Canada, artfully describing key points in the journey, such as encountering colorful dragonflies, enigmatic trumpeter swans, busy beavers, and massive moose. Where it is difficult to have a camera ready when canoeing, creating a Haiku to capture a snapshot of what is seen is genius, as it is the essence of the shared memory. Moreover, it results in an excellent example of the practicality of the Haiku in conveying details in three short lines.

Sandra Hisakuni's Haiku anthology, beautifully illustrated by Sofia Hisakuni, takes the reader to the beautiful Boundary Waters of Minnesota and Canada. Through repetition, sounds are imitated to add to the sensory experience created by the short poems. The reader is captivated by a vibrant description of the author’s experiences, complemented by the sound devices and visual images conjured by the words chosen to describe the images and sounds the author wanted to remember. This anthology of poems captures a journey from beginning to end while showing how helpful poetry, particularly Japanese Haiku, can be as a literary device. This would make an excellent teaching tool for young and older students. The Northland Beckons: An Illustrated Haiku Journey was created with love for and about nature and will be enjoyed by language and nature lovers alike.