Quote of the Month

When love and skill work together, expect a miracle. John Ruskin

Friday, January 20, 2012

It's All Around Us

In a discussion with a class of fourth grade students last week during our Mock Caldecott election process, I pointed out that if we have eyes to see, shapes are to be found everywhere in the world around us.  We need to be more aware; excellence, as they say, is in the details and a shift in perspective.

The collaborative talents of Newbery Award winning author Joyce Sidman and Caldecott Award winning illustrator Beth Krommes, previously exhibited in Butterfly Eyes and Other Secrets of the Meadow, have delivered another title, Swirl by Swirl:  Spirals in Nature (Houghton Mifflin Books for Children, October 4, 2011) that holds up for our pleasurable examination the mysteries and miracles of design in nature.

A spiral is a snuggling shape. 
It fits neatly
in small places.
Coiled tight,
warm and safe,
it waits...

Using expressive, deliberate free verse Sidman takes readers on a poetic walk beneath the ground, beneath the sea, across a forest floor, in fields of green, on jungle paths, peering in corners, over the ocean's expanse, through a garden's glory, in water and air, reaching to the stars and back again to where we began.

A spiral is a snuggling shape.

Whether a harvest mouse curled in repose, a chambered nautilus nestled on a sandy bed, fern fronds unfurling, a clinging sea horse tail, a grasping elephant trunk, a spider web woven among branches, cresting waves, a spinning tornado or a cluster of stars, each, large or small, repeats this shape with uncanny precision.  With thoughtful phrases meant to educate but also in admiration, Sidman describes all that spirals are.

What Sidman has alluded to in words, Beth Krommes elaborates on in illustrations.  Eloquent scratchboard in bold, vibrant colors greet readers on endpapers picturing spirals in every size from the varied vistas covered within the pages of the book. Throughout no detail is overlooked; dandelion fluff, millipede legs, and mouse whiskers are given intimate care.  Sweeping panoramic scenes defy the limitations of the page edges. 

Large type highlights Sidman's verse, small lettering labels spirals, tiny and immense, as Krommes's visuals warmly bid readers to enjoy what is there for them to see not only in this title but in their own backyards.  At the book's end each characteristic of a spiral, snuggling, growing, strong, reaching, clever, beautiful and moving, is further detailed.  To fully experience the extent of their writing and art visit the web sites of Sidman and Krommes by following the links attached to their names.  They have much to offer educators and those interested in children's books and art.

For Joyce Sidman, wordsmith extraordinaire, the less-is-more ideal has been polished to perfection in this title, Swirl by Swirl:  Spirals in Nature as Beth Krommes's striking scratchboard art depicts these patterns in a breathtaking array.  Beth Krommes states on her web site:

 My mission is to create artwork that is joyful in spirit, universal in nature, and accessible and affordable to others.

Well done, Beth Krommes, mission accomplished.

No comments:

Post a Comment