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Winter Bees  & Other Poems of the Cold
2014
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Author Notes
Poet and author Joyce Sidman was born in Hartford, Connecticut on June 4, 1956. She received a B.A. in German from Wesleyan University and earned her teacher's certificate in 1983. Sidman teaches poetry and is a columnist for the St. Paul Pioneer Press. She has published several children's books, including Red Sings from Treetops, and she won the New Women's Voices award for Like the Air. <p> (Bowker Author Biography)
Fiction/Biography Profile
Genre
NonFiction
Nature
Topics
Diseases
Weather
Environmentalism
Nature
Health
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Trade Reviews

  New York Times Review

In this sweetly pared-down story about adapting, little Pedro, arriving at his cousins' house from "far away," is not psyched to see snow. "It is cold," he notes, "and I don't like cold." Snow angels? No thanks. Sledding? No way - until someone goes first. Soon Pedro's enjoying a snowball fight and not feeling cold anymore. McCarty ("Henry in Love") draws furry creatures that are all as still and stout as saltshakers, yet he gives each a subtle individuality that evokes unexpected emotion. OUTSIDE Written and illustrated by Deirdre Gill. 40 pp. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. $16.99. (Picture book; ages 3 to 8) A snowy day finds a little boy looking longingly out the window, then leaving his computer-fixated older brother to venture outside. There, his snowball grows into a giant creature that comes to life, followed by an immense snow castle and, for good measure, a fire-breathing dragon who takes him for a ride over the snow-covered world. Gill's message is overt, and attuned to many parents' concerns these days: No matter the weather, freedom lies where the electronic devices are not. BLIZZARD Written and illustrated by John Rocco. 40 pp. Disney-Hyperion. $17.99. (Picture book; ages 3 to 8) In a follow-up of sorts to his Caldecott Honor book, "Blackout," Rocco recounts the blizzard that shut down his neighborhood when he was a boy. His family was stuck, albeit cozily, at home for five days, until he turned tennis rackets into snowshoes and made a "long journey" to the market. A pullout spread maps his route, including stops to build a snowman and climb a lookout tree. It's a wonderful story of everyday adventure, with a strong 1970s vibe: Dad's got a La-Z-Boy, and those rackets are wooden. WINTER BEES AND OTHER POEMS OF THE COLD By Joyce Sidman. Illustrated by Rick Allen. 32 pp. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. $17.99. (Picture book; ages 4 to 9) Some elegant strategies for surviving snowy Northern winters come to life in these cogent poems, accompanied by factual sidebars and strikingly colored prints. A scrum of hibernating snakes "'round each other twist and fold"; a beaver family hangs out in a downright inviting-looking "under-ice world / of the fat white wigwam"; working in tandem, a raven and wolf call to each other to "keep tracking our dinner." The chickadee keeps on looking for food "from dawn to dusk in darkling air." THE SNOW GIRL Retold by Robert Giraud. Illustrated by Hélène Muller. 32 pp. Floris Books. $17.95. (Picture book; ages 4 to 9) Sensitively retold from a traditional Russian tale and illustrated with an ethereal, wintry beauty, this "Snow Girl" leaves a haunting impression. An older, sadly childless couple make a girl out of snow and are delighted when she comes to life, "so lovely they couldn't stop gazing at her." The girl is cheerful and busy, but when spring comes she's unaccountably forlorn, until she leaps over a fire and disappears. The couple hear her voice in the breeze delivering an astute twist on conventional wisdom: "Winter will bring back what summer drives away." ONLINE A slide show of this week's illustrated books at nytimes.com/books.

  Publishers Weekly Review

Just as Sidman and Allen saw through the ominousness of night to find beauty and joy in the Newbery Honor-winning Dark Emperor, they now discover warmth, community, and wisdom in the dead of winter. Sidman's 12 poems draw readers through the first whiff of winter that sends tundra swans migrating to warmer climates ("As we tucked beaks/ into feathers and settled for sleep,/ our wings knew") to the humble, unlikely first observers of spring's arrival: skunk cabbage and springtails (snow fleas). Along the way, readers are treated to fascinating details about snakes, beavers, wolves, ravens, and other animals in extensive sidebars, while Allen's hand-colored, digitally layered linocuts bring a stately majesty to every page. Each poem brings a sense of humor, respect, or wonder to its subject, from minuscule bees "Born with eyelash legs/ and tinsel wings" to an imposing "slumberous moose." Ages 6-9. (Nov.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

  School Library Journal Review

Starred Review. K-Gr 4-The 12 selections in this collection offer a winter wonderland of deftly crafted poetry, fascinating science facts, an amazingly rich vocabulary, and stunning illustrations. In the title poem, the bees are lyrically described, "Born with eyelash legs/and tinsel wings/we are nothing on our own./Together, we are One.Deep in the winter hive,/we burn like a golden sun." In "Big Brown Moose," the animal humorously chants, "I'm a big brown moose,/I'm a rascally moose,/I'm a moose with a tough shaggy hide" Science facts about the animals' lives in harsh winter climates appear in sidebars on each spread. Sidman explores the safe places that allow for survival, such as in the underwater beaver lodge, "In the dim oval room,/they groom, snack, kiss;/strong brown bullets that dive/in the under-ice world." The poet also includes the role of plant species in the process, such as the skunk cabbage that signals spring's arrival as the first plant to sprout through the snow and its importance as it attracts insect pollinators. Readers come to understand that the seemingly barren winter is actually teaming with the hidden activity of plant and animal life. Allen's intricately detailed, hand-colored, linoleum prints jump off the page, wrap around the words, and breathe life into the foxes, voles, swans, wolves, and more. This combination provides a magnificent celebration of winter that delights and informs. A comprehensive glossary of specialized words is included. Douglas Florian's Winter Eyes (Greenwillow, 1999), Barbara Rogasky's Winter Poems (Scholastic, 1995), and Anna Grossnickle Hines's Winter Lights (Greenwillow, 1995) also celebrate the season but cover a wide range of events. Winter Bees distinguishes itself with a focus on the science of animal survival, coupled with superlative illustrations. Readers young and old will enjoy this winter journey and marvel at the wonders of nature.-Carole Phillips, Greenacres Elementary School, Scarsdale, NY (c) Copyright 2014. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

  Booklist Review

*Starred Review* The creators of Dark Emperor and Other Poems of the Night (2010) offer here a dozen winter-themed poems detailing the natural world. Topics range from migrating tundra swans and hibernating snakes to shivering bees and diving beavers. Each double-page spread contains a poem, full-page art, and a scientific note. Take, for example, Vole in Winter, in which the titular critter considers snow: How it appeared so softly one night, / just as the bitter wind had almost / sucked the very life from my bones: / a blanket made of sky-feathers! Meanwhile, Allen's hand-colored linoleum block and digitized art depicts a contemplative vole surrounded by snow and the dry grasses that sustain him. Only at the last minute does he notice a red fox poised to pounce. The accompanying science paragraph offers more details about the subnivean (beneath the snow) zone occupied by these small mammals, as well as the keen hearing that helps them detect predators. Most poems address familiar topics (snowflakes, moose, trees, chickadees), but springtails (snow fleas) and skunk cabbage (an early flowering spring plant) will be new to many. Concluded with a glossary of big but fascinating words, this is equally suited to curricular units and cozy reads in front of a fire.--Weisman, Kay Copyright 2014 Booklist

  Horn Book Review

In winter, bees ("we are nothing on our own") keep their precious queen warm by massing together into a "sizzling ball." Hibernating garter snakes, safe in a cave, "'round each other twist and fold / to weave a heavy cloak of cold." Intrepid moose "shrug off the cold," while beavers retreat to their "dim oval room" to "groom, snack, kiss" between dives "in the under-ice world." Framing her twelve-poem cycle with the fall departure of tundra swans and a "Triolet for Skunk Cabbage," that harbinger of spring, Sidman exemplifies the survival strategies of a well-chosen sample of species. Her poems, as usual, are lovely -- precise, evocative, lyrical, varied in tone; relevant facts in succinct (separate) prose illuminate the imagery of each. (There's a glossary, too, a score or so of terms from abdomen to vole and including pantoum.) Winter Bees is as beautiful visually as it is verbally. Winter's deep browns, blues, and whites are warmed with glowing honey tones, while a fox, caught mid-pounce in glorious red and gold on the cover, lurks throughout. A note describes the artist's "unlikely marriage" of hand-colored linoleum blocks with computer techniques: the engraver's tool lends strength; a digital laid paper effect provides pleasing texture. There's a pleasing subtext, too: these creatures can play vital roles for one another -- the "Alarm-on-the-wind" raven alerts wolves to prey they'll share; multitudinous springtails ("snow fleas") sustain chickadees. A handsome, persuasive, and authentic ambassador for creatures in their natural state. joanna rudge long (c) Copyright 2014. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

  Kirkus Review

How do animals survive and thrive in the bitter cold of winter in the northern tundra? Sidman explains and celebrates their remarkable adaptations in a collection of carefully constructed and delightfully varied poems. The moose calf is naturally built for cold and brags about all his achievements in a lilting, rhyming verse. The tundra swans rest in the marshes and wait for the right time to migrate south as they dream lovely images of their flight. The winter bees huddle in a warm, humming mass. With lines repeated in the strict organization of a pantoum poem, the beavers dart about in complete silence in the watery space beneath the ice. In dual-voiced verse, the raven and wolf exhort each other to be watchful and successful in their hunting. Other animals, along with trees and snowflakes, take their turns in the stark beauty surrounding them. The final two poems hint at the coming of spring. Fascinating, detailed information about the subjects accompanies each poem. The poems appear on the left, with the factual material on the right of double-page spreads, while Allen's intricate, unusual and exquisite illustrations take center stage. They are rendered in a combination of media, including large numbers of cut, inked and hand-colored linoleum blocks, which are then digitized and layered; the result is magic. A work to be savored by young artists and scientists. (glossary) (Informational picture book/poetry. 6-10) Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
Summary
In this outstanding picture book collection of poems by Newbery Honor-winning poet, Joyce Sidman ( Song of the Water Boatman , Dark Emperor and Other Poems of the Night ) , discover how animals stay alive in the wintertime and learn about their secret lives happening under the snow. Paired with stunning linoleum print illustrations by Rick Allen, that celebrate nature's beauty and power.<br>
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