Posted by: Kathy Temean | October 22, 2018

Book Giveaway: H IS FOR HAIKU

Author Sydell Rosenberg’s new book titled, H IS FOR HAIKU is available. Her daughter has agreed to share a book with one lucky winner. All you have to do to get in the running is to leave a comment. Reblog, tweet, or talk about it on Facebook with a link and you will get additional chances to win. Just let me know the other things you do to share the good news, so I can put in the right amount of tickets in my basket for you.

Sharing on Facebook, Twitter, reblogging really helps spread the word for a new book. Thanks for helping promote H is For Haiku!


In H Is For Haiku: A Treasury of Haiku from A to Z, the late poet Sydell Rosenberg, a charter member of the Haiku Society of America and a New York City public school teacher, and illustrator Sawsan Chalabi offer an A-Z compendium of haiku that brings out the fun and poetry in everyday moments.


The journey to publish my mother Sydell Rosenberg’s short poetry for children was a long and arduous one, and anything but linear.

Syd was a teacher in New York City, and a published writer. In 1968, she became a charter member of the Haiku Society of America, which exists today, 50 years later (and I am a member now, too: Mom wrote in a variety of prose and poetry formats, and her work was anthologized and published in books, magazines, and other media. But I think haiku and related poetic forms, such as senryu, became especially important in her life. Haiku “found” my mother — and I think it transformed her in a way that’s still not easy for me to describe. Haiku became an essential outlet she had been seeking to creatively express her worldview.

Decades ago, she wanted to create a poetry picture book, preferably a haiku alphabet reader – and one illustrated by children. I vaguely remember her talking about this desire in the 1980s, and possibly as far back as the 1970s. She submitted at least one manuscript to publishers (and she kept her rejection letters, a few of which I still have “buried” somewhere among her materials). She studied children’s literature, probably with the same kind of diligence and intensity she applied to her teaching and her haiku craft.

Unfortunately, mom was not successful in publishing her picture book. She died suddenly at home on October 11, 1996, from an aortic aneurysm. At her funeral, her family resolved to somehow, someday, publish the book she had always wanted.

But it took me a long time to mobilize, for many reasons. For one thing, I was paralyzed by a grief that threatened to consume me. My grief lasted for years. And frankly, I was terrified about the amount of effort, care, and skill this project would require. I didn’t have the emotional strength to undertake it, nor the organizational wherewithal to tackle the welter of papers and other “stuff” – decades’ worth – she had saved and squirreled away in my parents’ apartment in Queens. I also had other – valid! – life and work priorities to handle. Plus, I must confess: I’m a master procrastinator.

Finally, slowly, in about 2011, I started to take steps to curate a selection of her work, including her poetry for children, into some sort of practical and usable shape. And I became captivated by the idea of collaborating with a nonprofit arts education, nature, or literacy organization – some creative educational group or institution serving kids – on programs that would, via the use of the simple but striking language that is the hallmark of haiku, open up their senses to the magic of the “small things” in their daily lives.

It took time to bear fruit, but my ideas paid off. I have successfully worked with the Children’s Museum of the Arts and the Poets House, both in Manhattan; the Queens Botanical Garden (Queens, NY); and the Teaneck Creek Conservancy in New Jersey. But my most enduring partnership has been with the 10-year-old Arts For All ( Mom’s “word-picture” haiku have been used to teach the basics of drawing, painting, and collage; music; and theater, to students in two schools, one in the Bronx and one in Queens. (The students have been second-graders mostly, but we have done programs with other grades, as well). We have worked together since 2013, and it’s been richly rewarding for everyone – I hope most importantly, the students.

But the picture book has always been my ultimate goal. I vacillated for some time between the route of self-publishing the manuscript I had created, based on mom’s old manuscripts and other writings, and publishing traditionally. I mulled over trying to secure agent representation, but I realized the odds were against us. Eventually, I decided to go for traditional publication.

So I researched publishers, mostly smaller ones, that didn’t require representation. And at last, in April of 2015, I mailed out my firstH Is For Haiku manuscripts.

And of course, I got rejections … or I never heard back at all. (I’m still waiting for word, in a few cases!) I must say that some of the rejections seemed to be personalized – and complimentary. This feedback gave me hope.

In 2016, thanks to the recommendation of haiku poet and editor, Aubrie Cox Warner, I connected with Penny Candy Books, a wonderful independent publisher started by two poets, Chad Reynolds and Alexis Orgera. Its “mission is to publish children’s literature that reflects the diverse realities of the world we live in, both at home and abroad” (

On October 31, 2016, we officially became partners. H Is For Haiku: A Treasury of Haiku From A to Z, with fantastic illustrations and lettering by Sawsan Chalabi (, was released in April: National Poetry Month.

I am grateful for the warm welcome this book has received! And the supportive feedback from the talented, gracious KidLit and poetry communities, also sustained me. Over the years, I’ve been tempted to throw in the towel on several occasions. If it wasn’t for many great people in my life, including my husband, Cliff; and family, friends, co-workers, etc., I might have abandoned our dream. I have been blessed.


Sydell Rosenberg (1920-1996) lived, wrote, and taught in New York City. Syd was a charter member of the Haiku Society of America in 1968 and served as HSA’s Secretary in 1975. Her short poems – notably haiku and senryu, including some in this book – were published in various magazines and anthologies, such as American Haiku; Haiku Magazine; Frogpond, Wind Chimes, Modern Haiku, Haiku West; Haiku Highlights, The Haiku Anthology, The Haiku Handbook: How to Write, Share, and Teach Haiku; Haiku World: An International Poetry Almanac; The Teachers & Writers Handbook of Poetic Forms; Poets Anonymous; and more. One of Syd’s “city haiku” was included in the delightful urban public art project, “Haiku on 42nd Street in 1994, in which the marquees of shuttered movie theaters in Times Square – the “Crossroads of the World” – were transformed into showcases for micropoetry.

Syd received her MA in English as a Second Language from Hunter College in 1972. She was married to Sam Rosenberg (d. 2003) for more than 40 years. Their children are Amy Losak, married to Cliff; and Nathan Rosenberg, married to Deborah. Their grandchildren are Zachary and Julia.


Amy Losak is a member of a group of 11 female Jewish picture book authors and illustrators called “The Book Meshuggenahs.” Mom’s book is included. And a splendid new young people’s poetry and photography anthology, The Poetry of US, just came out last month. National Geographic is the publisher and the editor is former Children’s Poet Laureate, J. Patrick Lewis. It features the work of iconic poets such as Langston Hughes, Maya Angelou, and Walt Whitman; and well-regarded, contemporary poets. I’m thrilled that two of mom’s senryu are in this collection (the title is “Fish Tales.”)


Sawsan is a DC-based illustrator and designer. I have a passion for translating words into imagery that convey not only their meaning but also their mood and spirit. I love reading, conceptualizing and incorporating subtle wit and humor in my pieces. My work is mostly digital but also involves some traditional line work and textures. When I am not at my Cintiq, I can be found in my studio getting messy with my inks and paint as I continue to explore the power in the silent communication of art.

Amy what a great tribute to your mothers memory. It is a beautiful book you can almost feel your love coming off of it. Thank you for sharing you journey with H IS FOR HAIKU. Wishing you the best of luck getting it in readers hands.

Talk tomorrow,



  1. this sounds wonderful. i am a huge fan of both alphabet books and haiku!


  2. What a wonderful journey! I have heard a lot about this book 🙂


  3. Amy, I am so glad to see Kathy’s wonderful review of H is for Haiku! It is a beautiful book. 🙂


  4. Wow – what a compelling story of persistence and poetry behind this project! And I love haiku, so I’m putting this book on my must-read list. I’ve tweeted about it as well.


  5. I absolutely LOVE this book…the haiku and the illustrations! I truly believe it is a perfect book for all elementary school classrooms…and will be a big hit with reluctant readers because of the short word count and vivid pictures!


  6. A great book for kids. Haiku is a poetic form so suited to learning and expression. Thanks for the chance to win a copy!
    I tweeted a link to this post:, and pinned an image on Pinterest too:
    Thanks again, have a great week!!


  7. This is such a wonderful story of love, and a wonderful book!


  8. Thank you for sharing your story! And such a great book too!


  9. Oh how I love haiku 😀 ❤


  10. Wow. What a journey. Thanks for this post. The book looks adorable. I do love Haiku.


  11. Love this book & the story of its journey to publication!


  12. The illustrations make those haikus pop! Beautiful.


  13. Thank you, Kathy et al, for your continuing kindness! It’s true: this would not have been possible without your support. I will always be grateful to this extraordinary community.


  14. I love how these aren’t just illustrations of the haiku, the illustrations instead embody the haiku. What beautiful poems with perfect illustrations. A treasure for any child, to be sure.


  15. This book has had such a poignant journey. Your mother was indeed special. Kudos for getting her book out.


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