Book reviews: ‘Chrysalis’ and ‘Have You Seen the Ghost of John?’

For the Recorder
Published: 2/2/2022 2:09:24 PM

The two books I’m reviewing today don’t have a lot in common, but I’m still writing about them together. Both are short, and both reflect creativity on the part of their authors and publishers.

“Chrysalis” is a charming but unconventional book of haiku by vincent tripi, a Greenfield resident and poet who died in 2000. Inspired by the author’s habit of typing up his brief poems on 3-by-5-inch cards, Swamp Press of Northfield has printed them on cards and encased them in a beautiful cork-laminate pouch.

There are 63 poems. As the title of the collection indicates (and following haiku tradition), most of the haiku consist of brief lines that evoke nature in some way. Each short poem is simplicity itself, and each one creates a mood and makes the reader think.

I already have several favorites among the collection. Here is one of them, reprinted with permission from Swamp Press:

“Summer solstice ….

The long wait for

The grasshopper not to jump”

The poem brilliantly conveys the suspended nature of that day in June when time briefly seems to stand still before the Earth begins its descent toward fall and winter.

The haiku are best savored one or two at a time. I’m keeping the collection on my bedside table and reading one each evening to send me to sleep with vivid images and thoughts.

“Chrysalis” may be ordered from Swamp Press at 15 Warwick Road, Northfield, MA 01360 or by email from The $25 cost includes postage via media mail. The book is also for sale at Federal Street Books in Greenfield.

“Have You Seen the Ghost of John?”

The second book comes from writer and illustrator Christine Copeland of Northfield and is also published locally, by Brook Hollow Press of Hatfield.

“Have You Seen the Ghost of John?” takes as its starting point the folk song of the same name. Copeland begins with music to the song, which may be sung as a round. Her book is designed for children ages 5 and older.

The author goes on to make the song local with a fictional story set in Deerfield in the mid-19th century. Newlyweds Abigail and Peter Williams pay a visit to family in the village. They sense a creepy presence. That presence, the illustrations reveal, is their great-uncle John, who loiters in the historic village.

Copeland’s watercolors are beautifully rendered and a lot of fun. Their hues reflect the colors of New England in autumn. The is the first of a planned four-part series that will explore local history and seasons through song and images.

Young readers and their families will have fun singing the song (Copeland has added a few lyrics to the traditional ones) and looking for the ghost of John amid the houses and scenery of Historic Deerfield.

“Have You Seen the Ghost of John?” may be purchased at Historic Deerfield in the Museum Gift Shop or in the Deerfield Inn. (Both structures appear in the book.) It may also be ordered directly from the printer in Agawam at

The book is also available as an eBook at The eBook contains a track of the author and her son singing the round so young readers and their families can learn the music and sing along.

Tinky Weisblat is the award-winning author of “The Pudding Hollow Cookbook,” “Pulling Taffy,” and “Love, Laughter, and Rhubarb.” Visit her website,


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