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Swirl by Swirl: Spirals in Nature

4.06  ·  Rating Details  ·  2,335 Ratings  ·  310 Reviews
A Caldecott medalist and a Newbery Honor-winning poet celebrate the beauty and value of spirals.What makes the tiny snail shell so beautiful? Why does that shape occur in nature over and over againbut also celebrate the beauty and usefulness of this fascinating shape.
Hardcover, 40 pages
Published October 4th 2011 by HMH Books for Young Readers (first published October 3rd 2011)
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Me...Jane by Patrick McDonnellI Want My Hat Back by Jon KlassenGrandpa Green by Lane SmithPerfect Square by Michael  HallBlackout by John Rocco
2012 Mock Caldecott
10th out of 85 books — 188 voters
Me...Jane by Patrick McDonnellBalloons Over Broadway by Melissa SweetRedwoods by Jason ChinA Seed Is Sleepy by Dianna Hutts AstonAn Egg Is Quiet by Dianna Hutts Aston
Best non-fiction picture books
6th out of 354 books — 115 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Lisa Vegan
Jan 10, 2012 Lisa Vegan rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: kids interested in nature & science; fans of gorgeous illustrations
Gorgeous and eye catching illustrations.

Fascinating scientific information about how spirals are so prevalent in nature. This goes for individual animals (and animal parts and postures), individual plants, ocean waves, clouds, and entire galaxies.

I love how this can be read on so many different levels to and by so many ages of kids. The simple text information and big pictures can appeal to the youngest child. the words used are soothing enough so that this could even work as a bedtime story! Th
Jul 15, 2012 Kathryn rated it it was amazing
Loved this! Gorgeous illustrations, visually beautiful and full of rich detail. The storytelling is fairly simple but is also evocative of all the different types of swirls being described. I loved the variety, from swirls on snail shells and animals curling up in their burrows, to the swirls in ocean waves and in storm clouds and in the galaxy. Just breathtaking. I think the book could be appreciated by young children, while the back matter makes it more educational for the older picture book c ...more
Nov 20, 2011 David rated it it was amazing
Swirl by Swirl: Spirals in Nature by Joyce Sidman, illustrated by Beth Krommes reveals the many spirals in nature — from fiddleheads to elephant tusks, from crashing waves to spiraling galaxies — but also celebrates the beauty and usefulness of this fascinating shape.

Spirals are described as snuggling, growing, strong shapes that reach out, are clever, beautiful, and can move.

The spare text features a large font with the pertinent flora and fauna identified in a very small font. The poetry is c
Aug 16, 2012 Luann rated it it was amazing
This is a nearly perfect nonfiction picture book that teaches more than it seems possible in just a few simple words. I love the way Sidman teaches the various functions of spirals in nature - many of which I never really connected together until I read this. The illustrations by Beth Krommes are gorgeous and pair perfectly with the text to teach about spirals in nature. And of course, don't forget the additional information given at the end of the book. This is well worth reading for children a ...more
Allison Parker
Swirl by Swirl presents a fascinating examination of one of the most beautiful and prevalent shapes in nature, the spiral. After contemplating the examples presented here - a nautilus shell, the arrangement of a flower's petals, and a spider's graceful web - readers will no doubt discover more spirals in their world - perhaps the whorls in their fingertips, to start. With her keen control of language, Joyce Sidman's captivating and poetic narration marries science and art, much like the spiral i ...more
Kelly Barnes
Nov 04, 2015 Kelly Barnes rated it it was amazing
Joyce Sidman's Swirl by Swirl is a fantastic poetry read aloud for younger children, possibly Kindergarten through third grade. Sidman and illustrator Beth Krommes use beautiful words and vibrant illustrations to describe the spirals found in nature, like snails, flowers, ram horns, snakes, and elephant trunks. The wording is easy for younger children to understand, yet beautifully written to fully paint a picture and place the reader out in nature, viewing these spiral objects. The end of the s ...more
April Thompson
Jun 03, 2014 April Thompson rated it it was amazing
I'm blown away at the bold, brilliant and beautiful illustrations in this book. Add to that a solid and somewhat educational story line and viola - You have yourself an AH-maz-ing book!
Krista the Krazy Kataloguer
Sidman here describes all kinds of spirals found in nature, accompanied by Beth Krommes' gorgeous illustrations. Use this in story time and then let kids go outside and find the spirals themselves. A beautiful book!
Oct 08, 2013 538AM_Randi rated it really liked it
Shelves: literacy-methods
"A spiral is a clever shape. It is graceful and strong. It is bold...and beautiful." This is just one example of the thought provoking descriptions used by Sidman to draw students in to the magic of spirals. Krommes' illustrations of plants, animals, and other swirly shapes in nature are labeled in a subtle, yet artistic way.
Beauty in nature is the theme of the book, and would make an interesting addition for a science or poetry lesson about the shapes that occur naturally, as well as an enjoya
Jun 07, 2013 Dolly rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: parents reading with their children
I anticipated reading this book for so long. When I put it on hold at our local library, I was something like 79th in the queue for it. So it must be something special, right?

When we read the book, I was somewhat underwhelmed by the narrative. Perhaps it was the long wait that had me expecting brilliance. It has a lyrical simplicity that is soothing and encourages looking at the pictures, but it didn't "wow" me.

But as for the illustrations, that's another story. The scratchboard pictures have
My first thought after reading Swirl by Swirl:Spirals in Nature? I want more of this author/illustrator team! The book couldn't be more aptly named. It shows how spirals can be found in plants, animals and even waves. The simple text at first deceives. The reader needs to pay close attention to the pictures to truly understand the text. For example, "A spiral is a strong shape." The illustration of a hedgehog curled in a tight spiral while a red fox carefully sniffs, but does not harm, demonstra ...more
Apr 27, 2012 Emma rated it really liked it
On each bold scratchboard spread, Sidman describes a characteristic of spirals found in nature. The result is fascinating! From the snuggling spiral shapes of burrowing creatures like the bull snake and woodchuck to the bold spiral shapes of breaking ocean waves, readers will learn that the spiral is a growing, snuggling, and strong shape. The last two pages give detailed information about each of the characteristics described in the previous pages and offers great factoids to springboard discus ...more
Tricia Douglas
Jul 06, 2013 Tricia Douglas rated it it was amazing
This was a book chosen for my Goodreads picture book group. I loved it and thought for young children the bold illustrations and simple language would intrigue them. The pictures gave great examples of spirals in nature and their labels would help adult readers give additional explanations for the child. In addition, more information is provided in the back of the book if the child is interested. This author also won a Newbery Honor for Dark Emperor and Other Poems of the Night which I just real ...more
Dec 16, 2011 Michele rated it it was amazing
I love everything about this book! First, it is absolutely gorgeous! The illustrations, by winner of the 2009 Caldecott "The House in the Night," are incredible. The colors are fascinating and the design is both playful and mysterious. One glance gives one impression, but looking closely will catch lots of little details. I also like the text. Spirals may not sound intriguing, but this short book shows how they are they are represented in many different kinds of objects, living and not living--a ...more
Jan 09, 2015 Elaine rated it really liked it
The boys were fascinated by this book. The pictures are engaging and there are explanations at the end which further explain the swirls.
Oct 28, 2011 Barbara rated it it was amazing
Shelves: ncbla, picture-book
This is a stunningly beautiful book with scratchboard illustrations washed with colors that celebrate the wonder of the spiral shapes found in nature. Thus, readers will see the spirals in a ram's horn, the spirals in funnel clouds, the spiral shape in which a chipmunk curls as it falls asleep, the spiral in a snail shell. The text is sparing yet carefully chosen, and together, the text and illustrations inspire curiosity in readers and possibly encourage them to look more carefully at the world ...more
Aug 26, 2012 Sunday rated it it was amazing
Love this book. Ordering my own copy. Sidman and Krommes bring to life how we are surrounded by spirals in nature and how those spirals serve many different purposes. Simple text and detailed illustrations require young reader or listener to think carefully about what is being said. At the end of the book, there is a clear definition of a spiral (a shape that curls around a center point) with an explanation of the spirals in the illustrations in the book. These last two pages should be read alou ...more
Mar 25, 2015 MissKatherine rated it it was amazing
Swirl by Swirl: Spirals in Nature is a beautiful nonfiction text that explores the many spiral shapes found in nature. Written by Newbery Honor winning poet Joyce Sidman and illustrated by Caldecott Medalist Beth Krommes, this nonfiction text reads like a poetic picture book as it explores objects from snails' shells to tornadoes to elephant trunks. When you read it, you will be amazed by the number and beauty of spirals found in nature! Furthermore, the book discusses the many functions of sp ...more
Jun 19, 2012 Alicia rated it it was amazing
Audience: grades P-3, science teachers, nature lovers.

Appeal: This quick and easy story is full of information but not in the traditional sense. This nonfiction story is formatted in a way that tells a story while giving information. The book reads very quickly and can be used for a variety of science topics. The layout is informational but not boring for readers. The illustrations are eye catching and full of detail.

Amber M
Oct 29, 2013 Amber M rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fab-40-file
Genre: Nonfiction
Awards: None
Grade Level: K-2

This would be a great book to read to the younger students. I could use this book to help teach the students about some of the different shapes in nature, primarily the spiral shape. After we have read the book I would have the students complete an art project. I will have them create a spiral mobile and hang it from the ceiling for everyone to see.

Audience:PreK on up, more for non-fiction readers
Appeal:This books appeals to those who are fascinated by science and nature. Finding all the swirls on each page make the book more interactive. Vocabulary words such as "clever" and "expand" provide teaching opportunities to parents and teachers both.

Bill Martin Jr. Picture Book Award of the Kansas Reading Association Nominee for 2013
Feb 18, 2014 Romelle rated it it was amazing
A wonderful book about spirals. Joyce Sidman combined poetry with nonfiction in a bold, beautiful, and mystical way, which mimics the wonder of spirals. It's a love poem on spirals and uses the loving form of "A Spiral is...." Readers will take pleasure in discovering that spirals are all around us.

I also enjoyed Beth Krommes illustrations which are done in scratchboard (a blackened surface that can be scratched or scraped off for making white line drawings). It compliments the text very well. T
May 05, 2012 Melody rated it it was amazing
Shelves: nature-nonfic
Absolutely splendid. Excellent presentation, wonderful graphics. I fell head-over-heels in love with this book. The text is clear without the slightest hint of condescension, and the examples given are stellar indeed. The afterword brings up Fibonacci. One for the permanent collection, no question.
Barb Simpson
Sep 26, 2013 Barb Simpson rated it it was amazing
I loved this book! My kids loved it too. I have never intentionally thought about the beauty & function of a spiral. The illustrations are beautiful & the author weaves great facts about animals into the book. A winner! We got it from the library, but this may be a purchase for our home shelf.
Jun 19, 2014 Cemeread rated it really liked it
Shelves: ch-non-fiction
The swirls start on the cover with the largest animal being an obvious swirl, but also the text. Even the information on the title page is written in a swirl. The large print and font choice make it great for reading aloud. The scratchboard illustrations have a lot of texture. Children will be exposed to swirls in animals of all kinds, plants, and natural elements. They'll learn how animals use the parts of their body that make a swirl. The final spread, in smaller print, gives more information ...more
Cat Fithian
Quite lovely book, beautiful illustrations. Love how it shows such a variety of nature, the usefulness of spirals, the warmth and comfort, even with things that might normally be scary, like snakes and octopi.
Michelle Nero
Jan 21, 2012 Michelle Nero rated it really liked it
Gorgeous illustrations and explanations of spirals in nature.

Maybe they will write a book about about all the designs and natural patterns in nature? What an awesome series that would be!
Jun 21, 2012 Hannah rated it really liked it
Audience: Primary

Appeal: colorful illustrations, poetic text, illustrations feature appealing animals, spiral motifs throughout

Award list: School Library journal best books 2011
Betsy McElhannon
Nov 23, 2015 Betsy McElhannon rated it it was amazing
Shelves: nonfiction
1. The Lion and the Mouse by Jerry Pinkney
2. Awards:Horn Book Fanfare List
Amazon's Best Books of 2011--Top Ten Picture Books
ALA Notable Children's Book
School Library Journal Best Book of 2011
Booklist Editor's Choice
Book Links Lasting Connection Book
NSTA Outstanding Trade Book
Charlotte Zolotow Award Highly Commended Title
3. Genre: Nonfiction
4. Setting: Multiple places of swirls including --animals, plants, water, air.
5. This book is very eye catching, and I believe it would be an appealing book
Mary Lee
Oct 28, 2011 Mary Lee rated it it was amazing
The rhyming text works beautifully with the gorgeous illustrations to explore spirals in nature. Yet another great nonfiction read aloud.
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Joyce Sidman lives in Wayzata, Minnesota.
More about Joyce Sidman...

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