Winter Bees & Other Poems of the Cold.
February can be a difficult month for many of us. It is the depths of winter, and by this time we have seen months of frigid temperatures and relatively short, often dark days. By February, many of us are dreaming of spring, thinking of squirrels scurrying up tree trunks, moss coloring the forest floor bright green. We may be daydreaming of flower blossoms that in the spring are always visible just through our window.
On my winter walks to the woodshed for firewood, I think of the birds that nested on our shed’s overhang last spring. I wonder when they will return, and I hope they will build a nest here once again. By February, I find myself waiting for the revival, the lively energy, of springtime.
One day, though, I thought, “Couldn’t winter be wonderful too, not just something to make it through? It seems unfair, not to mention futile, to try to hurry winter away!”
The answer, of course, is yes, winter is full of wonder! Peeking through the winter blues is all the wonder, magic, intrigue, and coziness of the season and of nature, waiting to be discovered.
In recent years, I have embraced a love for winter. I have found that there is so much to learn about the wintertime, such as how animals and plants of all kinds survive the season, tailoring their habits and behaviors to the unique demands of the snowy season.
Of course, I have books to thank for teaching me this information. One such book is Winter Bees & Other Poems of the Cold by Joyce Sidman and Rick Allen, which I am delighted to share with the community as our February book of the month.
As we wind our way through the winter weeks still ahead, one cozy pastime option is reading aloud. Winter Bees & Other Poems of the Cold could be an enchanting choice, reading one poem from the book aloud as a family, or with friends, or even to oneself, each morning or night to honor the life that continues all throughout the wintertime.
Our February book would also be perfect for a homeschool morning basket, a bedtime read aloud, or a cozy snow day spent reading at home. This book is not just for children; it is perfect for anyone with an interest in winter, nature, science, poetry, or handcrafted art.
I thought about that title. Bees? In the winter? I was baffled, for sure. I had never stopped to wonder what bees are up to in the winter. To me, they are essentially synonymous with the wildflowers of the spring and summer. What could they possibly do in the winter?
I wanted to know more! And, I wanted to know what that fox on the book cover seemed to be smiling at, or smelling, or seeking beneath the snow.
So I opened the book and went on a literary winter’s journey, traversing the pages as the fox from the cover also makes its way through the pages, appearing in the background of many of the book’s illustrations. How many times can you spot the fox as you make your way through this book?
I pored over the rich and detailed layered linoleum prints made by Rick Allen to accompany Joyce Sidman’s winter poems & informational passages about plants’ and animals’ many winter adaptations. Indeed, one of my favorite things about this book is that it features poetry and scientific information right alongside one another, one enriching the impact of the other. The meaning of the poems is illuminated by the scientific explanations of the animals and plants’ behaviors in winter, and vice versa.
I came away from this book finally knowing what bees are up to in the winter. I learned many other facts, too, including what the fox was after. And, of course, the beauty of Joyce Sidman’s poems echo in my mind. I will share a snippet of a favorite poem from the book. The poem is called “What Do the Trees Know?”
“What do the trees know?
Buds can weather ice and snow.
Dark gives way to sunlight’s glow.
Strength and stillness help us grow.”
I hope this book brightens your remaining winter days as it has mine!
Joyce Sidman is a celebrated children’s poet who has received the Newbery Honor award for her work. She has written numerous nature-inspired books and poetry collections for children.
Many of Joyce’s books are available for check out through our library system. If we do not have a particular book in our own collection that you are interested in, we welcome you to ask us about borrowing that book from another library in our system. It is very often something that we can do!
Rick Allen is an artist with extensive experience in printmaking. He also created the prints for another book he made with Joyce Sidman, entitled Dark Emperor & Other Poems of the Night.
Both creators of this book live in Minnesota and are therefore quite familiar with winter living!