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Reviewed by:
  • Red Sings from Treetops: A Year in Colors
  • Deborah Stevenson
Sidman, Joyce. Red Sings from Treetops: A Year in Colors. illus. by Pamela Zagarenski. Houghton, 2009 [32p]. ISBN 978-0-547-01494-4 $16.00 Reviewed from galleys R* Gr. 3–5

It all begins in spring: “In SPRING,/Red sings/from treetops;/cheer-cheer-cheer,” as a cardinal chirps from a tree. The poetic trip through the year continues with one several-page poem per season, each poem exploring the seasonal palette in vivid free verse. Talented poet Sidman (author of Song of the Water Boatman, BCCB 7/05, etc.) fluidly moves from image to image, wittily personifying colors in their various [End Page 296] incarnations and cleverly contrasting their appearance in different seasons (in spring, “Green peeks from buds/trembles in the breeze”; in fall, “Green sighs with relief: I’ve ruled for so long./Time for Brown to take over”). Her explorations stretch beyond the classic to the clever (“Red squirms on the road/after rain”), additionally noting time-honored partnerships (the pansies’ purple and yellow, for instance) and cheerfully including that key autumn yellow, the returning school bus, in her catalogue of mostly nature-based color effects. A note describes Zagarenski’s artwork as “mixed media paintings on wood and computer illustration,” a summation that doesn’t do justice to the nimble figure creation, incorporated patterns, collage textures, and, appropriately, glowing hues. There’s a quirky exuberance to the style in general and to the harlequinesque figure who provides a focal point through all the spreads; the art is also magnificent at subtly partnering with the poetic themes and expanding them into visual motifs (the cardinal of spring’s red, for instance, is tucked into every subsequent illustration for an additional seek-and-find game). Though there’s a touch of O’Neill’s classic colorful Hailstones and Halibut Bones (BCCB 6/61) here, the book has a freshness and visual impact all its own, and it will inspire a rainbow of uses: language arts assignments, reading aloud or alone, or just poring over the pictures.



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pp. 296-297
Launched on MUSE
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