Children’s Poet Laureate Monthly Book Picks

Each month, the Children’s Poet Laureate recommends a book of poetry for children. Selections include classics of children’s literature, adult collections that are well-suited to children, as well as newly published books.

Winter Bees & Other Poems of the Cold

Kenn Nesbitt’s January 2015 Book Pick

Winter Bees & Other Poems of the Cold

by Joyce Sidman

HMH Books for Young Readers November 2014

Poetry can entertain us, it can tell us stories, it can move us, and it can teach us about the world in which we live. Joyce Sidman’s masterful nature poems do all of these at once with seemingly effortless aplomb. Her newest collection, Winter Bees & Other Poems of the Cold, pairs poems with prose paragraphs to illuminate the life of winter, from tiny springtails (snow fleas) to majestic moose, from the growth of snowflakes to the winter survival tactics of trees.

Winter Bees cycles through twelve lush poems – some free verse, some rhymed couplets, and some poetic forms such as a pantoum and a triolet – beginning with a migration of tundra swans at the start of winter, and ending with skunk cabbage peeking up through the snow as one of the first signs of spring. Sidman’s verse is carefully crafted, thoughtful and evocative, with many of the poems written from the perspective of the animals they describe.

Each poem is accompanied by a prose explanation of how the plant or creature adapts to its winter environment and finds sustenance and warmth to survive the long cold months, and each page is lavishly illustrated by Rick Allen, who also collaborated with Sidman on the Newbery Honor book, Dark Emperor & Other Poems of the Night. As a useful final touch, the book also includes a glossary to help readers with the rich science vocabulary (e.g., brumate, furcula, and subnivean) used throughout the book.

A perfect melding of visual and literary art with science and nature education, Winter Bees will teach you about the coldest months in the warmest, most pleasant of ways.

Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

This poem has learning resources.

This poem is good for children.

This poem has related video.

This poem has related audio.