If It Rains Pancakes – Haiku and Lantern Poems

Just one more book of poems to end National Poetry Month. I couldn’t help myself…especially when I saw the title – If It Rains Pancakes! But then I became even more intrigued because this is a book of Haiku and Lantern poems. Now, I think that most of us remember what a Haiku is – am I right? But are you with me, scratching your head because you’ve never heard of a Lantern poem? Well, I am not too proud to admit…that I had not!


Luckily for you, me and anyone else who might need a little tutorial on the subject, Brian Cleary has given us a good description of both. I especially like the way he describes haiku as a sandwich – the 5-syallable lines are the bread and the 7-syllable line is the stuff in the middle! It’s such a great picture when you are trying to explain haiku to a child.

Here’s an example of haiku:

Brown leaves, curled and dried.
Acorns, straw; and rich,brown dirt.
I should clean my room.

So, if you are still wondering about the lantern (or lanturne) poems… well, they are also Japanese and they have a distinctive form, too. Lantern poems are always centered on a page and they are constructed as follows:

1 syllable
2 syllables
3 syllables
4 syllables
1 syllable

When you actually use words the shape of your poem resembles…a lantern, like this:

a gift
that is best
when you return

I just love these and they are, I think, a great introduction for children to poetry. Be sure to visit Brian Cleary’s website and Sounds Like Reading, a website that introduces children to the “wonderful world of reading,” with games, topics, and tools for teachers. I would be remiss to overlook the illustrations of Andy Rowland – I loved them and so will children – they are full of fun and whimsy!



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