Ubiquitous: Celebrating Nature's Survivors by Joyce Sidman

ubiquitousCindy: Bookends is pleased to be today’s host for the children’s Nonfiction Monday blog round-up. If you have a blog post to share, please post to the comments below and we will add them to today’s post throughout the day.

Ubiquitous (Houghton, 2010) is another fine collaboration from Joyce Sidman and illustrator Beckie Prange, this one celebrating the 1% of species that overcame the odds and have survived and still thrive on our planet. Each survivor is presented in a poem, a factual prose paragraph, and in a gorgeous full page spread of Prange’s linocuts hand-colored with watercolor. The poems and art change to suit the subjects, starting with microscopic bacteria through prolific ants and dominate Homo sapiens. Beetles might have more species, but ants outnumber all animals in quantity and according to Sidman, some scientists estimate that the total weight of ants equals that of humans. How can you not love information like that? This is a fitting book to follow last year’s celebration of Darwin’s 200th birthday anniversary. 99% of earth’s species have become extinct. What enabled these critters to survive?

Prange’s art is fabulous (she won a Caldecott Honor for her first book, another collaboration with Sidman for Song of the Boatman). Her website informs that after a variety of jobs (screwing legs together on lawn chairs and wiping wolf pup bums with puffs–it helps them to go) she enrolled in The Natural Science Illustration Program at University of California. They offered art and biology together and I think it was a brilliant choice. Fans of her art can purchase prints (or note card sets) at her site. Choosing which one will be the hard part.

I hope the title of this book is prophetic, and that this book becomes ubiquitous–it’s worthy of the starred reviews it is racking up and should be found in every library.

Lynn: I loved everything about this book beginning with the stunning cover which practically jumps out and grabs you. The poetry is wonderful and varied in structure and form for each species. Sidman masterfully conveys the sense of each species in the poetry and the playful tone makes each one distinct and fun. On the opposing page a prose paragraph provides fascinating scientific facts. Did you know that lichen are made up of a collaboration of algae and fungi? I adored the illustrations. Each species gets a 2-page spread and the illustrations are glorious, spilling across both pages with exquisite details. The pages featuring the dandelions, “all blondes,” show the seeds flying away across one page and onto the other.

One of the surprises for me with this book is how much our focus group loved it. When I first read it I thought it was a bit old for them but the cover attracted their attention. We sat down to browse through it and ended up reading it cover to cover. They loved the poetry and illustrations. The prose paragraph was a bit long for them but we read major parts of each one. One of the features they were most fascinated by is the timeline – as I was – and we spent a lot of time looking at that and talking about what it demonstrated. This timeline, shown on the end pages, uses a looped string to illustrate the appearance of each species throughout Earth’s history and the appearance of humans at the very end is starkly dramatic. I have promised the boys they can take the book to school to show their teachers which tells you how much they like it. I really think this outstanding book, because of its many glorious elements, is one that can be used with all ages!

nonfiction-mondayVisit these Blogs for more Nonfiction Monday Reviews & Fun

Thanks for hosting. I’ve posted a review of How to Think Like a Scientist at In Need of Chocolate.

Visit Shelf-employed for a review of Oprah: The Little Speaker, a biography of Oprah’s early years. Thanks!

Good morning! At Abby (the) Librarian, I’ve got a review of EcoMazes: 12 Earth Adventures by Roxie Munro. Thanks for hosting!

The Wild About Nature blog has reviewed Meet the Howlers! by April Pulley Sayre. Thanks for hosting this week!

We’re celebrating the official release today of Loree Griffin Burns’ The Hive Detectives at alphabet soup. Thanks for hosting today!

Thanks for hosting! You introduced me to the book, and inspired the review. Mirror Mirror by Marilyn Singer – a reverso review at 100 Scope Notes.

Please visit Lori Calabrese Writes! for a review of If Stones Could Speak: Unlocking the Secrets of Stonehenge. Thanks for hosting. Have a great day!

I am in with Ain’t Nothing Like The Real Thing – A history of the Apollo Theater at The Happy Nappy Bookseller. Thanks for having this up already.

Today I have Insect Detective at SimplyScience. Thank you!

Thanks for hosting! Charlotte’s Library is in with Poop Happens! A History of the World from the Bottom Up, by Sarah Albee.

I’m sending you a post about 3 books that give fascinating info on NASCAR. (Hey, I live in Charlotte, NC!) If these reviews seem short, remember that the blog, Boys Rule Boys Read, is for 9-14 year old boys. Thanks!

Thanks for hosting! Over at the Lerner Books Blog, I wrote about nonfiction, format, and creativity.

Thank you for hosting. I share the book Shining Star by Paula Yoo at Check it Out.

Thanks for hosting! We reviewed Thank-You Sarah! The Woman who Saved Thanksgiving. Three Turtles and Their Pet Librarian.

We are getting new seasonal books in our library. I picked my favorite season, Summer, to discuss on Wendie’s Wanderings. It’s part of the Weather Watch series from Child’s World.

Thanks for hosting! I’m in with two books about space exploration at Biblio File.

Proseandkahn comes in with this great post.  Good evening Lynn and Cindy. Sorry that I’m late to the party and thanks for hosting. I really must compose these posts on Sunday. I learned all about what I did wrong when I tried to keep an aquarium.



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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