Sonderbooks Stand-out

Sonderbooks Book Review of

Winter Bees

and Other Poems of the Cold

by Joyce Sidman & Rick Allen

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Winter Bees

and Other Poems of the Cold

by Joyce Sidman and Rick Allen

Review posted January 4, 2015.
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Boston, 2014. 32 pages.
Starred Review
2014 Sonderbooks Stand-out: #3 Children's Nonfiction

Winter Bees & Other Poems of the Cold is a magnificent collection of poetry, science, and art – all about creatures of winter.

The poems are lovely and evocative, the artwork is stunning, and the facts presented after each poem are surprising and interesting.

Usually, the poem gives the voice of the animal being featured, then a paragraph on the facing page gives more details. The creatures highlighted include tundra swans, garter snakes, moose, honeybees (in winter), beavers, wolves, ravens, voles, chickadees, snow fleas, and skunk cabbages.

As one example, here’s “Snake’s Lullaby,” featuring an illustration of a tangle of garter snakes, which we are told brumate together in a tangled mass underground.

Brother, sister, flick your tongue
and taste the flakes of autumn sun.

Use these last few hours of gold
to travel, travel toward the cold.

Before your coils grow stiff and dull,
your heartbeat slows to winter’s lull,

seek the sink of sheltered stones
that safely cradle sleeping bones.

Brother, sister, find the ways
back to the deep and tranquil bays,

and ‘round each other twist and fold
to weave a heavy cloak of cold.

This is a beautiful book which will draw the reader back again and again.

Do you have a child who likes facts about animals? This book is full of choice bits. You’ll learn about subnivean creatures. You’ll learn about springtails – tiny arthropods whose tails flip them up into the air. You’ll learn how honeybees keep the hive warm during the winter, and so many other interesting facts. And while your child is learning, the chances are good that they will be pulled into enjoyment of the accompanying poetry and artwork.