nature poetry…April is Poetry Month!

This week is my last poetry post for the month.
Today I’ve got two volumes by Minnesota-poet Joyce Sidman whose insightful, revelatory pieces on naturalist subjects are some of my favorites.

In past years, I’ve recommended her Winter Bees & Other Poems of the Cold, Dark Emperor and Other Poems of the Night, Red Sings from the Treetops, and several other gorgeous volumes. I would put them all at the top of my list of recommended books for children and their grown-ups.

Today’s titles are perfect for these spring weeks and the summer ahead of us.

butterfly eyes cover

Butterfly Eyes and Other Secrets of the Meadow, written by Joyce Sidman, illustrated by Beth Krommes
published in 2006 by Houghton Mifflin Company

Each of the poems in this book acts as a riddle.  Sidman intrigues us with tantalizing hints within her verses, written in a variety of forms, each one describing something found in a meadow habitat.

In the dark/in the night/in the almost-light/in the leaf-crisp air just before sunlight/sprouts a secret, sparkling sight:/berries grown on the vines of night…

The poem goes on to further describe these mysterious berries, “the jewels of the dawn.” “What is it?” she asks at the end of each of these lovely depictions.


After every two riddling poems, we turn the page and find the answers in brief, factual explanations of this feature of meadowlands.  Did you guess what this one might be?  Beth Krommes’ fabulous scratchboard illustrations provide gorgeous hints as well that what we’re learning about is… dew.

Exploring nature by intermingling science and art is an exceptionally good idea. Adding the riddling element makes it all the more enticing for ages 4 or 5 and up.

song of the water boatman cover

Song of the Water Boatman & Other Pond Poems, written by Joyce Sidman, illustrated by Beckie Prange
published in 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

Covering a wide range of pond life from spring peepers to wood ducks, caddis flies to cattails, and written in a wide range of forms, these lovely poems draw our attention to the splendors of nature in and around the water.

song of the water boatman Sidman and Prange

Once again, Sidman pairs her poems with a small paragraph of factual information, brilliantly knitting together art and science. Beckie Prange’s prints dominate the pages with a gorgeous natural color palette of mossy greens, beetle browns, duck bill golds, and watery blue, along with her striking line and composition. It’s another fantastic book of poetry to accompany your nature outings, for ages 6 and up.

Find many more volumes of excellent children’s poetry here!