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*Swirl by Swirl: Spirals in Nature* by Joyce Sidman, illustrated by Beth Krommes
Swirl by Swirl: Spirals in Nature
by Joyce Sidman, illustrated by Beth Krommes
Ages 4+ 40 pages Houghton Mifflin October 2011 Hardcover    

If you ever wondered whether a talented author and illustrator could create an informative and aesthetically-pleasing children’s book about the different types of swirls that occur in nature, the answer is a resounding “yes.” That is precisely what has been done in Joyce Sidman’s beautiful children’s book Swirl by Swirl.

The book begins by defining a spiral as a snuggling shape that fits neatly in small places. Then the book illustrates, through simple words and vibrant pictures, how the spirals can expand and retract depending upon the necessary function.

For example, a woodchuck might retract itself into a small coil-like ball only to stretch out and expand when it is ready to explore. A swirl might also be created by the body part of an animal, such as the trunk of an elephant that contracts and expands as necessary to carry a limb, or a monkey’s tail that wraps snuggly around a tree as the monkey swings from one location to another.

As much as I enjoyed learning about the different swirls that appear in nature in many different context (i.e. animals, the world, and weather), what really sets this book apart are the illustrations by Beth Krommes, which are quite unlike anything I have seen before. The crisp colors and intricate details enable the pictures to send a message which is just as vivid, if not more so, than the words that accompany the simple text.

Swirl by Swirl is a unique spin on traditional books that re-tell an existing story, and this picture book would make a wonderful (and beautiful) addition to any child’s book collection.

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