Author: Joyce Sidman
Illustrator: Rick Allen
Publisher: Boston: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2014
Genre: Picture book, poetry and non-fiction
Audience Age: 6 to 12
Themes/Topics: Animals, Winter, Poetry
and the cold came creeping,
came prickling into our hearts.
As we tucked beaks
into feathers and settled for sleep,
our wings knew.
Synopsis: Each two page spread of this marvelous book features a detailed, realistic yet mystical illustration, a poem, and succinct information depicting some creature of Minnesota in winter: tundra swans, snakes, snowflakes, moose, bees, beavers, ravens and wolves, voles, trees, chickadees, snow fleas, and skunk cabbage.
This seems an unlikely grouping of subjects, but it works. They are tied together by the winter wind and snow that swirls through each page as well as by the magical poetry that captures the imagination and allows the reader to feel with the creature just what winter is like.
Kids (and others…) will enjoy searching each illustration for the fox – he’s there on each page, if you look very carefully.
The well-researched, easily-understandable information about each creature is an added bonus. I found it fascinating, for example, to learn how bees get through the winter. There is also an excellent glossary at the end of the book, which includes the names of the poetic forms used for the poem about beavers (a pantoum) and the one about skunk cabbage (a triolet) as well as defining some of the nature terms encountered in the book.
The moment I read the first poem in Winter Bees, I knew I had to share it for Perfect Picture Book Friday. If it has been shared before, I apologize for duplication, but I wanted to be sure it was on the list. I highly recommend this book. (And I’m not the only one! Check out this post on The Horn Book!)
Activities/Resources: How about going for a track-tracking walk? If you live where there is snow, it is quite easy to find animal tracks, even if you live in the city. I often see rabbit tracks just down the block, and a park provides even more opportunities. Out in the country, there are all sorts of tracks that one might see. The Amazing Kids Magazine’s website has a great post about identifying animal tracks.
The author, Joyce Sidman (who also wrote the wonderful Red Sings from Treetops, among other books), has a teacher guide at her website. Here’s a link to all her classroom guides, and here’s a link to her website’s page about Winter Bees.
Other great activities would be to have kids write their own poem about animals or illustrate an animals-in-winter scene.
Availability: Readily available in hardcover at independent bookstores such as Wild Rumpus in Minneapolis, Minnesota, and elsewhere.
Every Friday, bloggers join together to share picture book reviews and resources thanks to author Susanna Leonard Hill’s brainchild, “Perfect Picture Book Fridays.” Susanna then adds the books (and links to the reviews) to a comprehensive listing by subject on her blog. Find the entire listing at her “Perfect Picture Books.”