Sidman, Joyce. 2006. Butterfly Eyes and Other Secrets of the Meadow. Ills. By Beth Krommes. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Co. ISBN 061856313X
Poetry interwoven with informational pieces in Butterfly Eyes and Other Secrets of the Meadow, create a whimsical collection that is sure to engage readers. Each poem gives snippets of information and poses a question as to the identity of the topic of the poem. As readers turn the page, they are treated to a vignette that details the specifics of how the two creatures are related to each other. The artwork beautifully illustrates what the poems teach. Together Sidman and Krommes have crafted a beautiful collection that is both educational and captivating.
Sidman’s Butterfly Eyes and Other Secrets of the Meadow gives readers from a variety of backgrounds the opportunity test their knowledge about fairly average critters. Through the poetry and artwork on the pages, the animals and other living matter come to life in a way readers might not have considered before. The poetry breathes new life into the subjects of pollination, germination, food chain, and complete metamorphosis. Sidman’s setting of a meadow from sunrise to sunset is a clever way to incorporate science. The poetry is rhythmic and varied. Free-verse, shape, and poetry in the format of a letter (with the identity of the critter concealed as part of the riddle/answer scheme) are all incorporated in this collection. This variety of poetry, riddles, and vignettes combined with the artwork give readers a deeper insight to the meadow and the life that abounds there.
Beth Krommes’ illustrations on scratchboard are a contrast to the lively poetry on the pages this collection. The colors are somewhat muted, yet provide a striking contrast. The details Krommes’ artwork incorporates balances the poetry well. Just as one reads the line, “What is it?” or “Who am I?” they are treated to a small clue in the artwork. A small slither of a snake’s tail or the breast and talons of a hawk treat readers to a glimpse about which the poem was written. This is evident in “An Apology to My Prey”.
An Apology to My Prey
I am deeply sorry for my huge orbs
of eyes, keen and hooded,
that pierce your lush
tapestry of meadow.
And my wins: I regret their slotted tips
that allow such explosive thrust;
their span that gathers wind
effortlessly, and of course their
deadly, folding dive.
Let me offer an apology, too,
for my talons, impossibly long
and curved, sliding so easily
through fur and feathers,
seeking, as they do,
that final grip.
And last, of course, the beak.
It does tend to glitter, I know –
a merciless hook,
a golden sickle poised over
your soft, helpless heart.
I’m sorry. For you, that is.
All this works out quite well
What am I?
Science teachers could use this collection to show connections between plants and animals. Also, this would be a strong selection when promoting taking care of the environment.
Students could be arranged in pairs and given a match. Each would write a poem as a riddle and create the informational vignette for the whole class. The class could then create an anthology of their work.
English teachers could use this to teach reading strategies such as using inference skills.