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*Starred Review* Karas uses the haiku of the eighteenth-century Japanese poet Issa to limn a gentle, understated tale of one family over a year. The translations, from several different but fairly recent sources, do not always hew to the traditional syllabic format of haiku, but they are simply and clearly crafted. The poems begin in spring with parents, two children, a dog, and a grandfather. "Just being alive! / --miraculous to be in / cherry blossom shadows!" The grandfather is in his chair under the cherry tree, peeling an orange in his lap. In the next image, "Today and today / also--a kite entangled / in a gnarled tree," he rescues his grandson's kite from the cherry blossoms. Karas' art, using rice paper, paint, and pencil, is precise, enticing, and evocative: one panel echoes van Gogh's Starry Night. As autumn begins, Grandfather sits in a field of golden mums, but when trees are bare, the chair is empty, and in falling snow the family, less one, visits the cemetery. Spring comes again, though, and the small daughter now sits in grandfather's chair under the cherry tree. In a note, Karas explains that like Issa's haiku, he tries to "convey the precise feeling of each moment." He succeeds beautifully. GraceAnne DeCandido
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