Sunday, November 22, 2015


I will be spending a good part of my Thanksgiving break reading poetry for the CYBILS.  This morning I started with WINTER BEES AND OTHER POEMS OF THE COLD by one of my favorite poet-scientists Joyce Sidman. I have been using this book with students and teachers for about a year, I'm actually not sure why I have not yet reviewed it.

WINTER BEES is a celebration of nature in winter. Animal poems include the tundra swan, snakes, the moose, winter bees, the raven and wolf (did you know they actually work together to hunt?) the vole, the chickadee, and a very weird bug called a springtail or snow flea. Other poems celebrate snowflakes, trees, and skunk cabbage. Each poem is accompanied by a super interesting informational piece. Did you know for instance, that honeybees are one of the few insects in the Northern Hemisphere that remain active in the winter?
As the weather turns cold, the bees huddle together around the queen, who represents the future of the hive. The colder it gets, the tighter they huddle, shrinking to a football-sized mass that slowly eats its way through the carefully stored honey. Hungry hive mates farther from the honeycomb will then beg for food, which is then passed from bee to bee. When hive temperatures drop to dangerous levels, the outer-rim bees sound the alarm and the cluster begins to "shiver"-- flex their flight muscles-- to generate heat…

My favorite poem, I think, because there it includes so much wisdom:

           by Joyce Sidman

What do trees know?
                    To bend when the wild winds blow.
                     Roots are deep and time is slow.
                     All we grasp we must let go.

What do trees know?
                      Buds can weather ice and snow.
                      Dark gives way to sunlight's glow.
                      Strength and stillness help us grow.

The book is illustrated by Minnesota printmaker, Rick Allen, who claims to have lots of experience observing winter. Allen used linoleum blocks (nearly two hundred of them, according to the front of the book). Allen digitally scanned the prints and layered them to create the illustrations in the book. The book also includes a glossary, an unusual touch in a poetry book.

I can definitely see using WINTER BEES as a mentor text for young researchers and poets.

1 comment:

Ramona said...

Carol, I loved reading this book earlier in the year. And now, I have a poem to add to my writer's notebook. I somehow missed celebrating this poem when I read the book. Thanks for sharing it here!