Song of the Water Boatman: & Other Pond Poems
Song of the Water Boatman: & Other Pond Poems
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Annotation: A collection of poems that provide a look at some of the animals, insects, and plants that are found in ponds, with accompanying information about each.
Genre: Poetry
Catalog Number: #4373092
Format: Publisher's Hardcover
No other formats available
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin
Copyright Date: 2005
Edition Date: 2005
Illustrator: Prange, Beckie,
Pages: 32
Availability: Available
ISBN: 0-618-13547-2
ISBN 13: 978-0-618-13547-9
Dewey: 811
LCCN: 2002000477
Dimensions: 30 cm.
Language: English
Horn Book
Four stories span three seasons, feature two sheep, and illuminate one great friendship. Blanche and Otis rake leaves in the fall, and after a storm topples Otis's tree, Blanche gives him a baby pine tree for Christmas and presents him with lawn chairs made from his old tree. Caple's soft illustrations depict the changing seasons and emphasize the quiet mood of the episodic plot.
Kirkus Reviews
The stately rhythms of Sidman's 11 rhymed or free verse poems find echoes in Prange's strongly modeled, richly colored woodcut scenes. Both naturalistically portray a pond's flora and fauna from Spring Peepers, herons and cattails, to the titular insect (singing a Gilbert and Sullivanesque duet with a closely related Backswimmer), and a Painted Turtle settling "Into the Mud" for the winter: "Sun / slants low, / chill seeps into black / water. No more days of bugs / and basking." Sidman adds nature notes opposite each poem, Prange closes with a wordless glimpse of a snow-covered landscape and readers will come away feeling as if they, too, have been pond dwellers for a season. Matching Kurt Cyrus's Oddhopper Opera: A Bug's Garden of Verses (2001) for that up-close feel, this also makes an engrossing companion for Michael Elsohn Ross's Pond Watching with Ann Morgan (2000), illus by Wendy Smith. (glossary) (Poetry. 7-10)
School Library Journal Starred Review
K-Gr 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
Starred Review for Publishers Weekly

This remarkable collection of Sidman's (The World According to Dog) poems about the flora and fauna found in wetland areas also occasions the book debut for naturalist and printmaker Prange, whose artwork recalls the grace and narrative finesse of Mary Azarian. The poems and hand-colored woodcuts combine whimsy with naturalistic accuracy, and crystal-clear side-bars filled with enough factual oddities to intrigue young readers provide ideal accompaniment. For instance, two almost-identical water bugs—the water boatman and the backswimmer—trade stanzas in the title poem as if they were yeomen on a 19th-century schooner: "Yo, ho, ho,/ the pond winds blow/ and upside down is the way to go." Nonetheless, the rhythmic ballad informs readers about the differences and similarities between the two insects without sounding the least bit didactic. "In the Depths of the Summer Pond" neatly creates a "House That Jack Built" explanation of the underwater food chain. Each denizen of the pond is closely observed in both art and text, which brim with intriguing characterizations and vivid imagery. Separated into four "movements," "The Season's Campaign" chronicles the cattails in springtime, which "burst forth,/ crisp green squads/ bristling with spears," while in summer, their "brown velvet plumes/ bob jauntily." Prange's illustration features a sky tinted with subtle shades of blue and lavender with a "red-winged general" (aka blackbird) circling the fall cattails whose "courage/ clumps and fluffs/ like bursting pillows." With its unique combination of fact and fancy, this book is bound to delight pint-size scientists and environmentalists—and language lovers, too. Ages 5-10. (Apr.)

Starred Review ALA Booklist
*Starred Review* In this strikingly illustrated collection, science facts combine with vivid poems about pond life through the seasons. Focusing on one pond creature or plant per spread, Sidman employs many poetic forms, including austere haikus and rollicking sea shanties, and her fine selections are both accessible and sophisticated. Younger children may need help with the science allusions, although accompanying prose paragraphs will give some background; many poems integrate the science beautifully, particularly a marching, cumulative selection about the pond web of life. Some poems burst with sweet, joyful noise, such as the sounds of a duck family's first spring swim: "Peek, peek, / water sparkling! / Deep breath, / leaping, leaping. / Splash down." Others bring haunting immediacy to abstract concepts such as hibernation: "No more bugs / and basking. Last breath, last sight / of light and down I go, into the mud," says a turtle. Throughout, plants and animals come alive in the bold woodcut prints, reminiscent of Mary Azarian's work, which are hand-colored in watery blues and lily-pad green. A glossary of science terms closes this elegant, inspiring volume, which teachers will use across the curriculum.
Word Count: 2,077
Reading Level: 5.0
Interest Level: 2-5
Accelerated Reader: reading level: 5.0 / points: 0.5 / quiz: 84962 / grade: Lower Grades
Reading Counts!: reading level:4.7 / points:3.0 / quiz:Q36491
Lexile: NP

From spring's first thaw to autumn's chill, the world of the pond is a dramatic place. Though seemingly quiet, ponds are teeming with life and full of surprises. Their denizens--from peepers to painted turtles, duckweed to diving beetles--lead secret and fascinating lives. A unique blend of whimsy, science, poetry, and hand-colored woodcuts, this Caldecott Honor-winning collection invites us to take a closer look at our hidden ponds and wetlands. Here is a celebration of their beauty and their mystery.

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