Winter Doesn't Last Forever! Winter Bees & Other Poems of the Cold by Joyce Sidman
Nature has taught all of its creatures how to cope with the coming of winter. The ectotherms, cold-blooded reptiles like the garter snake, are among the first to sense the earth's turning:
BROTHER, SISTER, FLICK YOUR TONGUE
AND TASTE THE FLICKS OF AUTUMN SUN.
BEFORE YOUR COILS GROW STIFF AND DULL,
YOUR HEARTBEAT SLOWS TO WINTER'S LULL,
SEEK THE SINK OF SHELTERED STONES
THAT SAFELY CRADLE SLEEPING BONES.
As winter comes, even the wings of swans know what to do:
THAT NIGHT WE DREAMED THE JOURNEY:
WE DREAMED OURSELVES SO FAR ALOFT
THAT THE EARTH CURVED BENEATH US.
Snakes hibernate together, huddled in coiled communities of hundreds or thousands underground, and birds fly to comforting climes. Moose switch to a diet of twigs and shoots, and bees squeeze together in a "sizzling ball ... like a golden sun." Beavers winter in wigwams of sticks and mud, sending a youngster forth for takeout from the cached twigs and branches stored nearby, and wolves and ravens travel together, the birds sounding an alert that prey is near, even pecking at the wolves' tails to rouse them, and the wolves doing the work of making the kill for both of them.
Newbery-winning poet Joyce Sidman's latest, Winter Bees & Other Poems of the Cold (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2014), turns her considerable poetic skills to colder climes and times. Foxes, voles, chickadees, even snow fleas, all have their ways of wintering and readying themselves to spring into spring. Sidman's specialty is lyrical language, set in varied verse forms, that can enchant even the most reluctant poetry reader with its cleverness, beauty, and insight into the natural world. Rick Allen's appealing artwork, lovely double-page spreads in wintry palette, set off Sidman's rhymes and add movement and accurate portrayal of the animals and plants, even the stinky skunk cabbage, first in spring to pierce the snow cover, in its wintry world. Informational passages on each spread add additional knowledge to Sidman's poetic text, and an appended glossary provides definitions of vocabulary used in the text, all making this slim volume the best poetry of the year.
As Sidman's chicadees sing...
QUICK AND BOLD AND BRAVE AND CLEVER,
WE PREEN AND FLUFF EACH DOWNY FEATHER.
SING FEE-BEE--LAUGH AT THE WEATHER--
FOR WINTER DOESN'T LAST FOREVER!