A Knot of Toads illustrated by Nick Geoghan with haiku by Alison Hackett and Arnie Yasinsku is available now from 21st Century Renaissance.
Have you heard of a parliament of owls, or a murder of crows? These were the first groups of animals that Nick Geoghegan considered when he was asked to design a book of collective nouns for a college project. But he became drawn to the less familiar—such as a caravan of camels, or a conspiracy of lemurs—and the seeds for the children’s book Knot of Toads were sown.
Alison Hackett and Arnie Yasinski, who workshop poetry on a weekly basis, thought that a haiku to accompany each illustration would deepen the experience. Haiku—which are short poems with just seventeen syllables—are simple, but can also be rich and complex. To begin with they wrote the poems without looking at the illustrations, then later looked to the pictures to see what would resonate best. It worked. Some of the haikus were by Yasinski, some by Hackett, but many were a melding of the two
Responses to the book from both adults and children have been enthusiastic. Children quickly develop favourite illustrations. Phoebe, aged 7, in Dublin says, “My favourite picture is the tower of giraffes. My least favourite is the nest of vipers.” Ethan, aged three in Toronto, tells his parents how funny it is seeing the ducks in the toilet.
A Knot of Toads is available to buy from 21st Century Renaissance: