Song of the Water Boatman and Other Pond Poems
by Joyce Sidman, illustrated by Beckie Prange
Houghton Mifflin Company, 2005
Caldecott Medal Winner
When I picked up Song of the Water Boatman, I knew I had something special. The exquisite art lured me in with its intriguing perspectives of a common, yet unknown world. Then I discovered it wasn’t a story, it was a book of poetry about pond animals and insects. I was fascinated. Where was this taking me? The first page was an open page with no words, featuring the pond. I turned the page again for the first poem. Its first stanza had me.
Listen for Me
Listen for me on a spring night,
on a wet night,
on a rainy night.
Listen for me on a still night,
for in the night, I sing.
Each tightly-written poem and detailed illustration introduced me to a new pond creature. Then, to expand my experience, a short paragraph was written on each creature capturing its unique qualities. I felt grateful to receive a brief education of this wonderful creature I just learned about. I discovered wood ducks in Spring Splashdown, and greedy diving beetles, or “water tigers”, fierce hunters of the pond. Each page-turn had an up-close illustration of a new creature. For awhile, I went to another world, learning how pond creatures live. Some pages I had to study carefully to fully understand each creature. Then, as the illustrator brought me into the book, the illustrator led me away. I sat with a new understanding of ponds swirling within me. I could not move. I actually began to tear up. The whole experience was breath-taking. Sometimes I wonder why certain Caldecott Medal winners are chosen, but this one I understood. Illustrator Beckie Prange is a printmaker and naturalist with a graduate certificate in natural science illustration. This book is perfect for any child to expand their experience of the world.