Perfect Picture Book Friday: Swirl by Swirl
Author: Joyce Sidman
Illustrator: Beth Krommes
Publication Info: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Books for Children, 2011
Intended audience: Ages 4 and 8
Genre: nonfiction, picture book
Themes/topics: science, nature
Opening and synopsis: “A spiral is a snuggling shape. It fits neatly in small places. Coiled tight, warm and safe, it waits…”
Spirals snuggle, grow, protect, grasp, move, stretch and reach out to explore the world. In her lyrical book, Sidman shows how this shape appears repeatedly in nature, from calla lilies to shells and galaxies. Her notes in the back explain the strengths of the shapely spiral. Krommes’s bright wood engravings are a perfect complement to the text.
Why I like this book: Melissa Stewart recommended this book on her blog as an example of creative nonfiction that doesn’t necessarily have a narrative. This much-lauded book is a must-read for anyone aspiring to write children’s nonfiction. Sidman is a master of free verse, which makes this book appealing for young readers. And there’s much to learn about this mysterious and fascinating shape. Older readers will enjoy learning about Fibonacci spirals, DNA helix and spiderwebs in the back matter.
Resources: The fantastic blog, The Classroom Bookshelf, has a comprehensive list of activities and further resources for Swirl by Swirl. One of my favorite suggestions is to arm your child with a digital camera and seek out spirals in nature. Sidman’s Teachers page includes a Teacher’s Guide for the book, as well as a poetry kit for use in the classroom.
Every Friday bloggers review “Perfect Picture Books.” Find a complete list of book reviews organized by topic, genre and blogger at author Susanna Leonard Hill’s site.
33 thoughts on “Perfect Picture Book Friday: Swirl by Swirl”
We have read and loved this book in our house. Great choice!
It is a beautiful book. I’m trying to study these models of what a good nonfiction book can be.
Love the theme Kirsten, how neat is that?! I just added it to my list. Thanks!
You’ll love the free verse poetry too, Jennifer!
I got this from the library yesterday, it is great how many different swirls there are in the world, it is a visual masterpiece.
I love the woodcuts. Krommes’s designs perfectly illustrate the text.
This book looks interesting, educational, AND beautiful! What a great choice! I haven’t read it yet, but I must find it. Thank you so much for sharing this one, and the great activities!
And I love the title!
I love the title and the cover! I too haven’t read it but am sure I would love the beautiful presentation of swirls in nature!
It’s a very well-reviewed book, and I’m sure you’ll love it Joanna.
Susanna, the writing is beautiful. You will enjoy it for sure.
One of my favorites (pull it from the shelf to display whenever I find it!)
Don’t you just love the engravings?
This is my second time commenting. Egad! I have had so much trouble today. This book is a work of art. I have it on my list. That opening is simply beautiful. Great choice. 🙂
Robyn, the fact that this was recommended by Melissa Stewart (who has published 150 books) was a big plus in my book.
When I read the title of the book from the link you shared in Susanna’s blog, it never occurred to me that this picture book would be about swirls in nature. The huge swirly shell of the snail looks wonderful. Thanks for introducing me to creative nonfiction. Will look for more books that fall in this category. 🙂
If you can, click on my link to Melissa Stewart’s post. She has some great recommendations in several categories. And I guess I should have provided the subtitle. Next time!
Yes, thank you for linking Melissa Stewart’s post. *scoots over and whispers.. Just between you and me, I don’t put subtitles, either, when I post the link. Hehe. 😉
Kirsten, can’t belive we reviewed the same author today. I saw this book and watched a video. I was very impressed. But, I reviewed an earier book, Butterfly Eyes about meadows. She teamed up with the same artist to create these beautiful illustrations! Great review.
I already reserved it at the library. I hope I get the book soon.
as soon as my son saw this book cover while I was on here, he said ‘I want to read that book now on the computer’…I think he was hooked by the snail.
Yay, that’s wonderful!
What a cool book! It gives me something to think about! Fingerprints…DNA (not that you can see it)…hmm have to find more swirls 😉
Get out your camera. You can photograph them.
Love this. It reminds me very much of our nativer fern and all the swirl designs in our native Maori carvings also. Must look this up…. Thanks Kirsten.
Maori carvings…it seems you can find swirls all over the planet.
Sounds like a great book. I love the cover illustration too.
Pat also recommended another book by this team this week. I’m going to check it out.
I’ve intrigued by this book — educational, poetic and artistic. I’m off to find it. Thanks for sharing it with us on Nonfiction Monday.
I’m glad you enjoyed it Jeanne. This author/illustrator pair have teamed up on other books as well. I have one on butterflies waiting for me at the library.
Thank you for participating in NonFiction Monday. Wow! You have definitely interested me in this one! Thanks for the blog resources with extension activities too!
Thanks for hosting Nonfiction Monday! I have another book by this author/illustrator team on hold as well.