nonfiction nuggets…curling, swirling spirals

Swirl by Swirl: Spirals in Nature, by Joyce Sidman, pictures by Beth Krommes

Curled up into a ball of fur, nose tucked in, tail wrapped round, tiny paws drawn under warm tummy, a striped chipmunk nestles into his snug underground burrow and sleeps.  By forming his body into this darling, orangey-brown spiral, the chipmunk can squinch himself into a small, cozy space, and conserve his own body heat at the same time.

Tiptoeing atop the knobbly head of a showy, purple coneflower, an elegant swallowtail butterfly sips nectar through her long, slender proboscis.  Then, like magic, zzrup!  she coils that drinking straw up like a miniature garden hose.   Her “tongue” is long enough to cram deeply into the nectar-rich centers of flowers, yet stores tidily beneath her teensy head when coiled into its tight, black, spiral.

Spiral shapes show up throughout the natural world, in snail shells and fern fronds, elephant’s grasping trunks and monstrous, twisting tornadoes.

Sidman’s outstanding book explores this profound, mathematical concept with graceful, wondrous simplicity.  In perfect phrases, fit for preschoolers, she draws our attention to many strong, safe, spectacular spirals.  Her thoughtful words are paired with Beth Krommes’ gorgeous scratchboard illustrations, stunning in texture and detail, so striking with their muted colors and sharp black lines.  This book is a feast for the eyes and mind and soul.  Really.

The final pages of the book provide more in-depth explanations of the benefits and properties of the spiral shape in nature, suited to mid-elementary age and up.

This book comes with my highest recommendation.   Honestly, when I saw  Joyce Sidman’s name paired with this title, and glimpsed the handsome cover art by Beth Krommes, I could not wait to get my hands on it!  Truly outstanding work by this award-winning poet-artist team.

Here’s the Amazon link:  Swirl by Swirl: Spirals in Nature