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”

  1. I got this from the library yesterday, it is great how many different swirls there are in the world, it is a visual masterpiece.

      1. 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!

  2. 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. 🙂

  3. 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. 🙂

    1. 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!

      1. 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. 😉

  4. 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.

  5. 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.

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