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Song of the Water Boatman: & Other Pond Poemsby Joyce Sidman
2006 Caldecott Honor Book
2006 Lee Bennett Hopkins Poetry Award
2005 Publishers Weekly Best Books of the Year
2006 NSTA-CBC Outstanding Science Trade Book for Children
2005 Kirkus Reviews Best Books of the Year
2005 Booklist Editors' Choice
2005 Booklinks Lasting Connections Selection
2005 Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books — Blue Ribbon Winner
2005 Horn Book Fanfare Selection
2006 Notable Children's Book in the Language Arts
Synopses & Reviews
From spring's first thaw to autumn's chill, the world of the pond is a dramatic place. Though seemingly quiet, ponds are teeming with life and full of surprises. Their denizens — from peepers to painted turtles, duckweed to diving beetles — lead secret and fascinating lives. A unique blend of whimsy, science, poetry, and hand-colored woodcuts, this collection invites us to take a closer look at our hidden ponds and wetlands. Here is a celebration of their beauty and their mystery.
"This remarkable collection of Sidman's (The World According to Dog) poems about the flora and fauna found in wetland areas also occasions the book debut for naturalist and printmaker Prange, whose artwork recalls the grace and narrative finesse of Mary Azarian. The poems and hand-colored woodcuts combine whimsy with naturalistic accuracy, and crystal-clear side-bars filled with enough factual oddities to intrigue young readers provide ideal accompaniment. For instance, two almost-identical water bugs — the water boatman and the backswimmer — trade stanzas in the title poem as if they were yeomen on a 19th-century schooner: 'Yo, ho, ho,/ the pond winds blow/ and upside down is the way to go.' Nonetheless, the rhythmic ballad informs readers about the differences and similarities between the two insects without sounding the least bit didactic. 'In the Depths of the Summer Pond' neatly creates a 'House That Jack Built' explanation of the underwater food chain. Each denizen of the pond is closely observed in both art and text, which brim with intriguing characterizations and vivid imagery. Separated into four 'movements,' 'The Season's Campaign' chronicles the cattails in springtime, which 'burst forth,/ crisp green squads/ bristling with spears,' while in summer, their 'brown velvet plumes/ bob jauntily.' Prange's illustration features a sky tinted with subtle shades of blue and lavender with a 'red-winged general' (aka blackbird) circling the fall cattails whose 'courage/ clumps and fluffs/ like bursting pillows.' With its unique combination of fact and fancy, this book is bound to delight pint-size scientists and environmentalists — and language lovers, too. Ages 5-10." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"In this strikingly illustrated collection, science facts combine with vivid poems about pond life through the seasons." Booklist (Starred Review)
"An organic union of poetry and science, this book encourages readers to ponder the minutiae and magnificent life of the natural world." School Library Journal (Starred Review)
"The stately rhythms of Sidman's 11 rhymed or free verse poems find echoes in Prange's strongly modeled, richly colored woodcut scenes." Kirkus Reviews
"Sidman and Prange go beyond accuracy and clarity; with a humor born of skillful observation and light and color worthy of the Impressionists, they capture the essence of this environment in all its fascinating particularity." Horn Book
From springand#8217;s first thaw to autumnand#8217;s chill, the world of the pond is a dramatic place. Though seemingly quiet, ponds are teeming with life and full of surprises. Their denizensand#8212;from peepers to painted turtles, duckweed to diving beetlesand#8212;lead secret and fascinating lives. A unique blend of whimsy, science, poetry, and hand-colored woodcuts, this Caldecottand#160;Honor-winningand#160;collection invites us to take a closer look at our hidden ponds and wetlands. Here is a celebration of their beauty and their mystery.
About the Author
Joyce Sidman is the author of The World According to Dog: Poems and Teen Voices, which was winner of the ASPCA Henry Bergh Children's Book Award for Poetry, a VOYA Poetry Pick, and a Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books Blue Ribbon winner. She teaches in the Minneapolis schools as a writer-in-residence and is the author of several other fine books of poetry. She lives in Wayzata, Minnesota.
Beckie Prange has a degree in biology and has completed a graduate program in natural science illustration. She lives in Ely, Minnesota. This is her first book for children.
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