Red Sings from Treetops: A Year in Colors by Joyce Sidman

red-singsCindy: Poetry and collage art combine for a colorful celebration of the seasons in Red Sings from Treetops (Houghton, 2009). What’s not to love? It’s summer, so I’ll focus there. A bright yellow sun fills half a page of a summer picnic on a dock.




White clinks in drinks.

Yellow melts
everything it touches….
smells like butter,
tastes like salt.

On another page, hummingbirds hover while a ladybug crawls on a hand:

Red darts, jags
a blur of wings,
a sequined throat.

Red whispers
along my finger
with little beetle feet.

I loved learning all the interesting color names on my Crayolas as a child; this poem about blue reminds me of that:

And where is BLue?
Humming, shimmering,
snoozing in the lazy haze.
Dancing on water
with Yellow and Green.
In summer,
Blue grows new names:

The illustrations are a feast to look at and complement the poems and the sounds, smells, tastes and moods of each season. It’s a perfect gift book but art teachers of all ages could use it as a springboard for imitative projects. In fact, leave us a comment and tell us what your favorite seasonal color acts like? Here’s mine and I’m going to cheat and get all three favs in:

Pink, purple, periwinkle
twinkle and twirl
on summer sunset waves.

Lynn: We’ve been reviewing picture books for less than a year and I’m still learning. I am SO grateful to publishers such as Houghton who include information about the artwork with other publication information! I learned that Pamela Zagarenski’s absorbing illustrations are “mixed media painting on wood and computer illustrations.” I’m not entirely sure what that means but I covet one of the original illustrations – ANY of the originals – to hang on my wall! Each page is a delight with saturated colors and an eye-catching composition that marries beautifully with the poetry. There are many small intricate details too that can be found by looking carefully at each page.

I was captivated by the book when I first read it but I wasn’t sure how our high-energy focus group would react to this lovely quiet book. I should know by now not to underestimate readers of any age! This is another book I will purchase to add to our collection because the little boys loved it. They responded enthusiastically to the concept of personifying color and to the illustrations. They especially enjoyed finding the small white dog on each page and watching for the red bird who does indeed sing from treetops. I think this would be very effective as a book to use in a story hour or classroom but it is especially nice to use as a lap book.

I am trying to banish back-to-school thoughts in the midst of our lovely summer but I am eager to try reading this to a class and to ask them to draw their thoughts about color or create their own poetry. A lovely book for readers of all ages!



About the Author:

Cindy Dobrez and Lynn Rutan are Booklist reviewers and middle-school librarians who have chaired both ALA’s Best Books for Young Adults and the Michael L. Printz Award for YA Literature committees. Follow Bookends on Twitter at @BookendsBlog. You can also find Cindy at @cdobrez and Lynn at @482april.

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