Song of the Water Boatman and Other Pond Poems by Joyce Sidman (author) and Beckie Prange (illustrator)

Kindergarten-Grade 5-Seasons set the stage for this celebration of the diverse life of ponds. The book begins with the poem, "Listen for Me," in which spring peepers wake from their winter hibernation and sing out, "Listen for me on a spring night,/on a wet night,/on a rainy night./…Listen for me tonight, tonight,/and I'll sing you to sleep." The melodic verse continues through summer with a cumulative poem that highlights the food chain of a pond, cattails in all seasons, and late fall when a painted turtle settles into the mud. Sidman employs several poetic forms, such as haiku and rhymed and unrhymed verse, and varied line structure, and her arrangement of the 11 poems is natural and exact. Each one is accompanied by a paragraph that provides scientific information about a specific creature, plant, or aspect of pond life. Prange's woodcuts are a natural accompaniment to these poetic compositions. The dark lines naturally contrast against watercolor hues that reflect the changing seasons. Beginning with subtle pastel shades of spring, tones gradually deepen through the lush colors of midsummer and conclude with subdued earthy browns and violet sunsets of early winter. Perspectives in illustrations shift from one poem to another, providing a unique depiction of the life below the water, on shore level, and in the surrounding reeds and trees. An organic union of poetry and science, this book encourages readers to ponder the minutiae and magnificent life of the natural world.-Shawn Brommer, South Central Library System, Madison, WI
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Classroom Implications: This makes a wonderful read aloud for first-fourth grade classrooms studying ecosystems. It is especially hard to find a specific science-based book for primary grades. This book solves that problem! It combines poetry and a content-area story, and manages to include delightful images worthy enough for the Caldecott. This text would pair nicely with Fleishman's Joyful Noise: Poems in Two Voices due to the similarity in both poetry and science.

Skills and Strategies
  • rhythm
  • rhyme
  • haiku--syllables
  • free verse
  • nonfiction reading

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