by Joyce Sidman, illustrated by Taeeun Yoo
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2017
Nature poet Joyce Sidman takes the shape “round” and shares about round shapes abundant in nature. From round oranges, to round seeds that grow, or turtle eggs being buried to later hatch. Each page is a nature lesson. Each page gives young readers things to think about. “Some swell into roundness” (mushrooms)….”stretching toward the sun” (sunflowers). Some start in a different shape, but become round when all sharp edges wear off (rocks in oceans). Some are hidden (rings in a tree stump), some last only a moment (bubbles). A wonderful way to share a shape and explore many aspects of nature.
Gentle, nurturing, yet sciency-exciting.
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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.
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Dark Emporer & Other Poems of the Night
By Joyce Sidman, Illustrated by Rick Allen
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2010
Newbery Honor Book
Written by scientist and poet Joyce Sidman, readers are introduced to the creatures of night. From the better known Raccoon, Porcupettes (infant porcupines) and spiders, to the lesser known Primrose Moth, efts and snails. Readers learn how and why these creatures prefer the night and thrive in the darkness. Readers even learn how the moon makes it light to shine at night and how trees use the night to recover and repair themselves, growing new roots and distributing water to nourish itself through its complex system of “veins”. Told in a poetic voice, readers “experience” the night in a way no science book can. Beautifully written, blending science of nature with the art of nature.
Each poem has an illustration and a few words in prose, further enhancing the poem’s subject. Discover other science/poetry books by Joyce Sidman, including Song of the Waterboatman and other Pond Poems (Caldecott Honor Book, BCCB Blue Ribbon Nonfiction Book Award) (See review by Susan), Butterfly Eyes and other Secrets of the Meadow, and Winter Bees & Other Poems of the Cold.
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