Clever, that Jon J. Muth. I'll admit, I have yet to read the Caldecott Honor-winning Zen Shorts, which came before Zen Ties. But, I suspect it's just as brilliant.
Mr. Muth subtly introduces young children to haiku in this engaging tale. The main character, Stillwater (a rather large talking panda) has a nephew named, Koo. When he meets him at the train station, he says (you can all say it with me if you see where this is going!), "Hi, Koo!" So, so clever. And, Koo only speaks in haiku ... yep, he's got 17 syllables to say his peace. And, I have to say ... he is very artful with those 17 syllables!
Not all may agree with me, given that there is a lot of dialogue in this children's book ... but, I tend to write that way too, and love how well the dialogue works in this book.
Not only does it introduce the concept of haiku in such a clever way, but it has a beautiful message of compassion and respect ... without being overtly didactic.
And the watercolor illustrations ... well, they are simply mesmerizing. Vivid, yet sweet, with a nostalgic feel. They captivated and entertained my almost-4-year old even while I was explaining the Hi Koo / haiku wordplay to her! :-)
I highly recommend Zen Ties ... and am now looking forward to reading Zen Shorts!