Winter Bees & Other Poems of the Cold by Joyce Sidman and Rick Allen is a stunning book. Before I could even read a word (and believe me, ever since I read The Catcher in the Rye when I was in high school, in which Holden Caulfield discusses the fate of the fish in the lagoon near Central Park South when it freezes over, I have been intrigued by how certain animals survive winter, and was anxious to get to reading) I pored over every single amazingly gorgeous illustration. Rick Allen is a printmaker who, as the jacket flap notes, lives at the "frosty tip of Lake Superior" in Duluth, MN. Allen stays warm during the "fifteen months of winter" by running Kenspeckle Letterpress. Allen did his research for Winter Bees & Other Poems of the Cold online and at the library, then he "just looked out the window." I have no doubt that living in a near-Tundra like environ added to the creation of these stunning images.
Sidman's poems, which touch on everything from tundra swans to brumating (the word for hibernating reptiles, and new to me) snakes to voles and springtails. otherwise known as snow fleas. Each poem is crisp and inviting, and sure to pique the reader's interest in each creature and event. And Sidman is as much of an artist with her words as Allen is with his illustrations. Skunk cabbages, alien looking plants with a fascinating life cycle, are rendered beautifully by Allen and honored by Sidman with a triolet poem that perfectly captures their odd (smelly) beauty.
Happily, poems are paired with paragraphs that detail the interesting habits of the animals (trees and snowflakes are honored with poems and paragraphs in Winter Bees & Other Poems of the Cold also) featured. And, while I couldn't find images to share of my favorite illustrations - and poems - in the book, "Snake's Lullaby" and "Triolet for Skunk Cabbage," I was able to find images of Allen's creative process, from the carved linoleum blocks to the painting of the prints!
I hope that you will buy Winter Bees & Other Poems of the Cold for your own enjoyment, then purchase another copy to give as a gift!
Source: Review Copy