Oh, what a joy to experience the changing seasons from a child’s perspective! Because sometimes, it’s the little things: the glimpse of a shy peach peeking out from behind some leaves, the pleasure of flying brightly colored kites at the beach, the sound of umbrellas singing in the rain.
Beautiful Day! Petite Poems for All Seasons is a beautiful collection of haiku-inspired poems written and translated from Greek by Rodoula Pappa, and illustrated by Seng Soun Ratanavanh. There are twenty poems in all, five for each season. They are short and sweet, and expressed in a clear childlike voice.
“Maybe next year/we’ll travel together/wild geese!” the young (gender-neutral) child protagonist asks as they watch a multicolored flock of origami geese in flight.
“First snowflakes—/they fall softly, they melt/they fall softly . . .” The same child observes as winter arrives.
The simple language ensures the poems are accessible to children ages 5+ (their intended readership), some of whom may also enjoy reading the book independently, or even creating their own haiku!
It is the Japanese-inspired illustrations that transform the young protagonist’s everyday observations, reflections and experiences into something magical. The child features throughout the collection, always dressed in the same blue dungarees and white long-sleeved top (plus yellow boots in the cooler seasons). In one spread, they perch on an intricately patterned cloud, hands outstretched to the swallows flying above them. In another, they are enveloped in the petals of a poppy, watching a spring lamb on a daisy. Winter brings my personal favorite with the young child clearing a path through the snow outside a little red house. Pan out and the reader will realize the scene is set atop a chocolate cake; the child, house and surrounding trees appear to be cake decorations and the snow, icing.
Beautiful Day! Petite Poems for All Seasons is pure, unadulterated joy, a visual delight that invites readers to experience a child’s sense of wonder as they observe and explore the changing seasons.
Beautiful Day! Petite Poems for All Seasons
Written by Rodoula Pappa
Illustrated by Seng Soun Ratanavanh
Translated from the Greek by the author
Cameron Kids/Abrams Books, 2021
Read an interview with Seng Soun Ratanavanh about her approach to illustration on Let’s Talk Picture Books.
Laura Taylor is the founder of world children’s literature blog Planet Picture Book. She is a small business copywriter, NAATI-certified translator of French into English and member of AUSIT. When she is not writing, she is reading, and chasing after her two young children. She tweets regularly @plapibo and posts at www.planetpicturebook.com