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Swirl by Swirl: Spirals in Nature

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Overview

A Caldecott medalist and a Newbery Honor-winning poet celebrate the beauty and value of spirals.What makes the tiny snail shell so beautiful? Why does that shape occur in nature over and over again?in rushing rivers, in a flower bud, even inside your ear?

With simplicity and grace, Joyce Sidman's poetry paired with Beth Krommes's scratchboard illustrations not only reveal the many spirals in nature?from fiddleheads to elephant tusks, from crashing waves to spiraling galaxies?but...

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Overview

A Caldecott medalist and a Newbery Honor-winning poet celebrate the beauty and value of spirals.What makes the tiny snail shell so beautiful? Why does that shape occur in nature over and over again—in rushing rivers, in a flower bud, even inside your ear?

With simplicity and grace, Joyce Sidman's poetry paired with Beth Krommes's scratchboard illustrations not only reveal the many spirals in nature—from fiddleheads to elephant tusks, from crashing waves to spiraling galaxies—but also celebrate the beauty and usefulness of this fascinating shape.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
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.)
From the Publisher
"The open-ended quality of the verse and the visual nature of the subject create plenty of opportunities for the art. The striking scratchboard illustrations use black lines, shapes, and crosshatched shading on white backgrounds to create strong compositions, while watercolor washes add subtle warmth and brilliance. . .There are, of course, many school uses for this, but just reading it aloud at home will make the everyday fascinating."—Booklist, starred review

"The observations, from a few words to a couple sentences, are tucked neatly into Krommes’s gorgeous scratchboard spreads."—School Library Journal, starred review

"Exquisitely simple and memorable."—Kirkus, starred review

"From the endpapers that gather together all the spirals depicted to the spiraling text on the title page verso, this book is elegantly constructed, and as poetry, picture book, or nonfiction, a success in every way."—The Horn Book, starred review

"This is one of those rare children’s books that make you look at the physical world differently. . .spirals are beautiful—whether we see in them hints of infinity, the promise of unfolding potential, or the embodiment of mathematical perfection."—Publishers Weekly, starred review

Children's Literature - Susan Thomas
Spirals are not often included in basic shape books, but thanks to the vivid illustrations and intriguing examples here, young readers will be inspired to look for spirals in their own backyards. The text is simple, yet descriptive. Sidman uses her distinctive poetic language to describe the spirals in nature. Plants and animals are identified with captions that don't distract from the bold scratchboard illustrations by Caldecott Award winner Krommes. Sidman provides helpful additional information at the end of the book. For each of the specific plants, animals, and natural phenomena shown throughout the text, descriptions are provided, as is a short explanation of the Fibonacci sequence. This would be a good book to use with young students to inspire nature study and art projects. For middle elementary students, it could serve as an introduction to the fascinating mathematical patterns found in nature. Reviewer: Susan Thomas
School Library Journal
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
Kirkus 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)

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780547315836
  • Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
  • Publication date: 10/4/2011
  • Format: Library Binding
  • Pages: 40
  • Sales rank: 160,659
  • Age range: 4 - 8 Years
  • Lexile: AD330L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 9.50 (w) x 9.30 (h) x 0.40 (d)

Meet the Author

Newbery-Honor winning poet Joyce Sidman is the author of Song of the Water Boatman and Red Sings from Treetops, both Caldecott Honor Books, as well as other fine books of poetry.  For her remarkable poetry, she has won, several  times, both the Lee Bennet Hopkins Award and Bank Street's Claudia Lewis Award.  About writing  this book she says "For me, writing is a matter of finding what things amaze and intrigue me and what things give me joy."  She lives in Wayzata, Minnesota.

Beth Krommes is the Caldecott Winner of The House in the Night and other beautifully illustrated, much-acclaimed picture books.  She lives in Peterborough, NH.  www.bethkrommes.com

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 5
( 2 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Posted December 13, 2013

    Beautiful pictures! My 3 year old daughter loves this book!

    This book is wonderfully illustrated. My daughter can't help but be totally engaged in finding every swirl in nature. She now points out swirls/spirals every time she sees one.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted June 22, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    My Review: This is a beautiful illustrated book that tells what


    My Review: This is a beautiful illustrated book that tells what makes things like snail shells, bull snake, eastern chipmunk, millipede, hibiscus, sunflower, funnel tornado, and many more spirals. Mathematic explains that a spiral is a curve in the plane or in the space, which runs around a centre in a special way.

    This spirals in nature shows how the bull snakes, woodchuck, harvest mouse and more like to coil tight in small places to keep warm and safe. In some animals and plants spiral shape start small and gets bigger and swirl, like the swimming nautilus, lady fern. Some use their spiral to defend themselves like the Merino sheep while the spider monkeys use theirs to hold on tight.

    Highly recommend this beautiful book for classroom teaching.

    5 Stars



    FTC Disclosure: I received a review copy of this book from the author in exchange for a fair and honest review. I was not monetarily compensated for my opinion in any way.

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