Tuesday, March 27, 2012

When Two Genres Collide...Perfectly

Song of the Water Boatman
& Other Pond Poems

by Joyce Sidman
Illustrations by Beckie Prange

Caldecott Honor Medal, 2006

I had seen this book many times, but never managed to page through it until I found a copy on sale (love a bargain book). Once I opened it, I was simply in awe of the artwork. I loved it. I wanted to buy another copy to simply cut out the artwork to hang on the wall.
Reading through the book was divine. What a wonderful blending of poetry and science! I love how the seasons unfold from the thawing of spring until the chill of autumn. Each poem/song invites us to take a closer look into the world of ponds and wetlands. The lines of the poems read and flow with a symmetry of each animal portrayed. The nice addition on each page is the science facts about the plants and animals within. There is also a glossary in the back of the book.

Both author and illustrator live in Minnesota. The author, Joyce Sidman, lives in Wayzata, Minnesota. Illustrator,  Becki Prange, lives in Ely, Minnesota. She is a naturalist with a degree in biology and a graduate certificate in natural science illustration. The illustrations are woodblock printed and hand-colored with watercolor.

Listen for Me (SPRING PEEPERS)
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.

That is when my heart thaws,
my skin thaws,
my hunger thaws.

That is when the world thaws,
and the air begins to ring.

I creep up from the cold pond,
the ice pond,
the winter pond.

I creep up from the chill pond,
to breathe the warming air.

I cling to the green reeds,
the damp reeds,
the muddy reeds.

I cling to the slim reeds;
my brothers are everywhere.

My throat swells with spring love,
with rain love,
with water love.

My throat swells with peeper love;
my song is high and sweet.

Listen for me on a spring night,
on a wet night,
on a rainy night.

Listen for me tonight, tonight,
and I'll sing you to sleep.

The ending lines of the painted turtle as he burrows into the mud:

Into the Mud
slant low,
chill seeps into black
water. No more days of bugs
and basking. Last breath, last sight
of light and down I go, into the mud. Every
year, here, I sink and settle, shuttered like a
shed. Inside, my eyes close, my heart slows
to its winter rhythm. Goodbye, good-
bye! Remember the warmth.
Remember the quickness.
Remember me.

Some wonderful lesson ideas to use with the book can be found at Homeschoolshare.com

1 comment:

  1. These illustrations and excerpts are absolutely beautiful. They have the effect of bringing peace upon me. I can just imagine how wonderful they would be when read aloud to a child.