Swirl by Swirl: Spirals in Nature
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Swirl by Swirl: Spirals in Nature

4.07 of 5 stars 4.07  ·  rating details  ·  1,319 ratings  ·  241 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
11th out of 82 books — 176 voters
Me...Jane by Patrick McDonnellBalloons Over Broadway by Melissa SweetRedwoods by Jason ChinA Seed Is Sleepy by Dianna Hutts AstonSwirl by Swirl by Joyce Sidman
Best non-fiction picture books
5th out of 174 books — 54 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 2,407)
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Lisa Vegan
Jan 10, 2012 Lisa Vegan rated it 5 of 5 stars 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...more
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
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...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
"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...more
Jun 07, 2013 Dolly rated it 4 of 5 stars 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...more
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
Cheryl in CC NV
Amazing! Love the big print for the younger children, and the thorough author's note for big kids. The only reason I'm not giving it five stars is because I, personally, don't care for wood-cut style graphics. But that's just me. Read the other reviews and believe every word of them, or just take our word for it and get the book. If you have children or grands, buy it.
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...more
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
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.
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.
Audience: Primary

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

Award list: School Library journal best books 2011
Mary Lee
The rhyming text works beautifully with the gorgeous illustrations to explore spirals in nature. Yet another great nonfiction read aloud.
Allison Barry
I paired this non-fiction text with Octopus Alone by Divya Srinivasan. The non-fiction text referenced many things in nature and life and have a specific spiral. I couldn't choose all the things the author used in the book, so I decided to make a connection with an octopus. Joyce Sidman writes, "an octopus uses its eight curly arms to pull itself along the sea bottom, explore interesting objects, and grasp prey." Divya Srinivasan writes about Octopus who loves to hang out with her friends, but s...more
I like Joyce Sidman's writing style. She's very good at putting nonfiction together with poetry and making both halves come off better for the collaboration, and I think that Swirl by Swirl is one of her best efforts in that regard. The real star of the book, though, has to be illustrator Beth Krommes. I'm not genuinely awed by the work of just any artist who supplies paintings for a picture book, but in Swirl by Swirl Beth Krommes has neatly leapt the boundaries of the genre, creating a series...more
Sep 13, 2012 Jess rated it 5 of 5 stars Recommends it for: people, espcially 1-3rd
Recommended to Jess by: good reviews
A spiral is a snuggling shape.

This is great! Lyric wordings (so reading this aloud next week*), movement-filled illustrations, and information on the prevalence and uses of spirals in nature. Added illustration perk -- the large, full page illustrations with detailed bits hidden inside spirals should work well for group readings and one-on-one examination.

At the close of the book, Sidman included more details for each one of her spiral statements. Sidman includes two pages of details further e...more
Jun 20, 2013 Michaela added it
Shelves: primary-books
Audience: Primary

Genre: Nonfiction- Informational

Twin Text: "The Case of the Swirling Killer Tornado" by John R. Erickson

"Swirl by Swirl: Spirals in Nature" is all about spiral shapes. It discusses all the different places that you encounter spirals in day to day life or nature. Some of the places it discusses are animals all coiled up, pretty flowers and the designs in them, and also in tornados. This is where I made my fiction twin text. Tornados have a spiral shape to them. The book, "The Cas...more
Samantha Kimsey
Audience Primary
Genre Information
Award School Library Journal Best Books of 2011
This is a great book about how the swirl of a snails shell is represented throughout nature and it is used for protection. To stay warm, how it is a strong shape that is safe. The book goes through and tells how different animals have this shape on them and how it is used example is protection in the merino sheep.
Twin Text Little Skink's tail by Janet Halfmann
This is a great book about a lizard who when being attacke...more
Audience: Primary
Genre: Non-fiction, Informational
A fiction twin text that I would use with this book is called, "A Pet Named Sneaker" by Joan Heilbroner. The reason that I chose this book is because it is all about a snake, which is one of the animals that the "Swirl by Swirl: Spirals in Nature" tells and shows a picture of. In this book, a snake can make a spiral shape by coiling itself together from the inside of its body to the outside of its body, and it can also expand itself and look lon...more
Brianne Cox
Audience: Primary
Genre: Informational
Twin Text: Whose shadow is this? : a look at animal shapes--round, long, and pointy

The book "Swirl by Swirl" it tells all about swirls but not just the shape, it examples different way the animals and nature use swirls. One thing that's nice about this book is that next to every picture it tells us what it it. "A spiral is a snuggling shape. It fits neatly in small places." On this page it shows an eastern chipmunk and woodchuck "coiled tight" underground in...more
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Joyce Sidman lives in Wayzata, Minnesota. www.joycesidman.com
More about Joyce Sidman...
Red Sings from Treetops: A Year in Colors Dark Emperor and Other Poems of the Night (Booklist Editor's Choice. Books for Youth (Awards)) Song of the Water Boatman and Other Pond Poems This is Just to Say: Poems of Apology and Forgiveness Ubiquitous: Celebrating Nature's Survivors

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