Squares, circles and triangles, sure. But who knew there were so many spirals around us? Just as she did in her recent Caldecott Honor title, Dark Emperor and Other Poems of the Night, and Ubiquitous: Celebrating Nature’s Survivors, Joyce Sidman challenges young readers to look at their environment with fresh eyes in Swirl by Swirl: Spirals in Nature.
Sidman’s lyrical text opens with an unexpected observation: “A spiral is a snuggling shape,” exemplified by slumbering animals coiled tight to stay warm through hibernation. It continues with a look at what a spiral is (e.g., a clever shape in a butterfly’s proboscis or a spider’s web); what a spiral does (e.g., a snail shell that protects its inhabitant); and the need for spirals (e.g., an Asian elephant that uses its spiraling trunk to grasp food).
It’s not only in plants and animals that spirals are found. A bold spiral curves to make a breaking ocean wave, while a twisting spiral forms a classic funnel tornado. Still another spiral stretches “starry arms through space” to form a galaxy. To truly understand the formation and function of these spirals, children need to see them in action. In her signature scratchboard illustrations, Caldecott Medalist Beth Krommes does just that. From a fern’s curling leaves to a merino sheep’s horns to the tentacles of an octopus, the beautifully luminous illustrations depict both predictable and unusual examples of spirals.
For curious children (and adults), a concluding double-page spread offers more information on many spirals, as well as an explanation of Fibonacci numbers and the spirals they create. It may take several reads before children notice all of the swirling spirals, but each reading will be a st[Wed Dec 4 17:40:20 2013] enhancedContent.pl: Wide character in print at E:\websites\aquabrowser\IMCPL\app\site\enhancedContent.pl line 249. unning adventure to see how the world shapes up.Copyright 2011 BookPage Reviews.
"A spiral is a snuggling shape" is the somewhat homely observation that begins Sidman's brief and graceful poem—she goes on to catalog and celebrate the ways that spirals manifest themselves in the physical and natural world in a way that will draw in the youngest listeners.
Krommes' dense and richly colored scratchboard illustrations, with their closely packed and neatly labeled creatures, plants and natural phenomena, create a feeling of abundance and profusion, with so many parts of the world nestled together in swirls and spirals—effectively demonstrating its fundamental nature. The author and illustrator examine spirals as coiled and protective (fiddlehead ferns, a curled hedgehog) as well as bold and releasing (curls on ocean waves, a spiral galaxy). They further offer observations on the ways that plants and animals use the spiral structure for strength or support (a monkey's tail clinging to a branch, a spider's web constructed between twigs). Two pages of notes at the end offer a definition ("Spiral: a shape that curls around a center point"), details that elaborate on the poem and explain some of the individual manifestations of spirals and a brief nod to the Fibonacci sequence.
Exquisitely simple and memorable. (Informational picture book. 2-8)Copyright Kirkus 2011 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.
This is one of those rare children's books that make you look at the physical world differently. "A spiral is a clever shape. It is graceful and strong," writes Newbery Honor artist Sidman (Dark Emperor and Other Poems of the Night), as she and Caldecott Medalist Krommes (The House in the Night) explore spirals found in nature. A spiral, Sidman decides, is nature's elegant solution in many respects: "It fits neatly in small places" (hence the sleeping position of burrow-dwelling animals), it offers protection and strength (the defensive curl of the porcupine), and it provides firm grasps (monkey's tail, elephant's trunk). But beyond these utilitarian advantages, spirals are beautiful--whether we see in them hints of infinity, the promise of unfolding potential, or the embodiment of mathematical perfection. This feast for thought is a visual banquet, as well: working in her signature scratchboard style and employing a gorgeous burnished palette, Krommes creates spiral-packed nature scenes that have a timeless, classic beauty. Whether she's portraying a tiny curled eastern chipmunk or a classic funnel tornado, it's clear that nature isn't the only master at work. Ages 4-8. (Oct.)[Page ]. Copyright 2011 PWxyz LLC
PreS-Gr 3--Concentrating on a single shape, this title is aimed at a slightly younger audience than Sidman's previous explorations of nature. The text considers various aspects of the shape, from snuggling animals curled in underground burrows to expanding rings of stars in a spiral galaxy. The shapes uncoil to reveal leafy fern fronds or clasp tightly like a spider monkey's tail around a branch. The observations, from a few words to a couple sentences, are tucked neatly into Krommes's gorgeous scratchboard spreads. Rich, deep colors enhance panoramas of marine creatures moving through curling ocean waves or a close-up view of dew glinting on the web of an orb spider. Plants and animals are labeled in small type, and more information about many of them is provided in the endnotes. However, even without the added details, the book will encourage youngsters to look for spirals in their own surroundings. Another first-rate volume from the author and illustrator of Butterfly Eyes and Other Secrets of the Meadow (Houghton Harcourt, 2006)--Kathy Piehl, Minnesota State University, Mankato[Page 137]. (c) Copyright 2011. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.