From School Library Journal
Kindergarten-Grade 5–As in Song of the Water Boatman
(Houghton, 2005), Sidman applies her flair with poetry to explore the interactions of creatures and plants in a particular environment. Here, she employs varied poetic forms with simple explanations for a pleasing introduction to meadow ecology. The poems are posed as riddles in facing pairs: We are the ghosts/of those/who have come before/The gray ones/Leaping/Gone/ What are we?
The spread following each set answers the questions and describes briefly an aspect of each animal's physiology or behavior. Visual clues complement the poetic suggestions in striking scratchboard scenes that are saturated with color. The busy, patterned views provide readers with much to see in this meadow, including magnified views of the insect denizens. They also incorporate ample white space for the text, nicely highlighting the visual qualities of much of the poetry. Sidman concludes with a brief explanation of how meadows change over time and eventually become forests through the process of succession. This term is defined again in the glossary, which also includes one poetry form, the pantoum. This book is a handsome and versatile compendium, melding art, poetry, and natural history.–Margaret Bush, Simmons College, Boston
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Sidman follows the Song of the Waterboatman and other Pond Poems
(2005) with another picture-book collection of verse that celebrates an ecosystem. Here, the setting is a meadow, and each energetic selection offers another view of a wild, buzzing landscape teeming with animals, from leaping grasshoppers to barely glimpsed deer ("Swift / Still / Here / Gone"). Many poems are more conceptually challenging than those in Waterboatman,
and children will have questions about the science references and each poem's riddle, which invites them to guess the poem's subject. Krommes' scratchboard illustrations have a static, decorative quality that lacks the startling vibrancy of Becky Prange's work in Waterboatman.
Once again, though, Sidman supports the poetry with fact-filled, prose paragraphs, and an appended glossary further defines concepts. As in Waterboatman,
the poetry draws children straight into an awe-inspiring natural world with infectious sounds and beats, inventive images, and a range of poetic styles that make the book, like Sidman's previous titles, an excellent choice for use across the curriculum. Also suggest Maxine Kumin's Mites to Mastodons
, reviewed on p.55. Gillian EngbergCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved