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Ubiquitous: Celebrating Nature's Survivors

4.15  ·  Rating Details  ·  513 Ratings  ·  122 Reviews
From the creators of the Caldecott Honor Book Song of the Water Boatman and Other Pond Poems comes a celebration of ubiquitous life forms among us. Newbery Honor-winning poet Joyce Sidman presents another unusual blend of fine poetry and fascinating science illustrated in exquisite hand-colored linocuts by Caldecott Honor artist Beckie Prange.

Ubiquitous (yoo-bik-wi-tuhs):
Hardcover, 40 pages
Published April 5th 2010 by HMH Books for Young Readers
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City Dog, Country Frog by Mo WillemsA Sick Day for Amos McGee by Philip C. SteadChalk by Bill ThomsonArt & Max by David WiesnerBink & Gollie by Kate DiCamillo
2011 Caldecott Hopefuls
11th out of 74 books — 143 voters
Out of My Mind by Sharon M. DraperMockingjay by Suzanne CollinsOne Crazy Summer by Rita Williams-GarciaCountdown by Deborah WilesMockingbird by Kathryn Erskine
Newbery 2011
56th out of 135 books — 539 voters

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Community Reviews

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Lisa Vegan
Jan 29, 2011 Lisa Vegan rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: 4th & 5th grade science & nature students, particularly those who like poetry
Recommended to Lisa by: Kathryn
Stellar presentation via poetry, prose, and illustrations, of animal and plant survivors, those who arose from between 3.8 billion years ago (bacteria) to 100,000 years ago (humans). What it does, it does exceedingly well, I think.

Each species of life, shown from oldest to most recently developed in evolutionary terms, is covered via a poem, text giving scientific facts about it, and an illustration or illustrations.

The poems are of all types and are a perfect complement to the straight prose a
I knew I was going to like this book when I read the first poem and realized that Joyce Sidman is talented enough to make bacteria sound beautiful and interesting to yours truly (easily grossed-out and squeamish and not exactly scientifically inclined):

ancient, tiny
teeming, mixing, melding
strands curled like ghostly hands
winking, waving, waking
first, miraculous

I was hooked! The book presents a poem and then a paragraph of factual information about various species that have been the
Mar 10, 2013 L13_Terry rated it it was amazing
Poet Joyce Sidman and artist Beckie Prange have created a unique and marvelous book for children aged 5 through 12 in Ubiquitous: Celebrating Nature's Survivors. The ecclectic poems introduce the reader to living organisms ranging from bacteria to coyote...and finally, to human beings. Each living organism is introduced in the form of a poem first: some are free verse; others are riddled with rhyme; while several actually take shape in the form of concrete p ...more
Marta Michniewicz
Ubiquitous is a rather unusual book, verging on being an informative book on the one hand and a poetry volume on the other.

As far as the informative side of Ubiquitous is concerned, the book contains a very detailed descriptions of the living forms, such as lichens, mollusks or the ants. The descriptions are composed of complex sentences that frequently contain advanced, specific vocabulary, such as "acid rain" or "pollen." While using such specific terms is certainly necessary to provide an exh
Mar 01, 2012 James rated it really liked it
Have you ever been deceived by assuming a book by it’s cover? Literally, Ubiquitous by Joyce Sidman is one of those books. Although seemingly innocent and plain on the outside, on the inside, lies the beauty of nature.....followed by a scientific explanation. From the simplest of organisms to top predators who have survived on our earth for more than 400 million years, Ubiquitous is exactly what it’s name perceives it as. It is everywhere; starting from explaining the first life on earth. Combi ...more
Oct 28, 2010 Betsy rated it it was amazing
I believe that there are different muses of children's literature. You have you Beautiful Spine muses, your Great Editor muses, your Awe-Inspiring Marketing muses, and your Copyediting Magnificence muses. Each one of these references those elements of the production of a book that authors and illustrators cannot wholly control. In terms of picture books, however, the greatest muse of all these, the big mama muse on high, would have to be the Serendipity Muse. This is the muse that pairs great au ...more
Ubiquitous is probably far more than a two star book to the right child. There's a lot going on here. It explores lots of different life forms (plant as well as animal), some of which younger kids may not even be aware of, and the text for each, while interesting, is more advanced. It's probably at a 4th-6th grade reading level. In addition to descriptive text, the pictures of each life form were also accompanied by a poem. This is a nice touch--if the kids you're dealing with like poetry. My ni ...more
Jul 08, 2010 Dolly rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: parents reading with their children
This is a wonderful book, a unique combination of poetry, science and art. The illustrations are great and the line drawing of the timeline of evolution on the endpages is very mind boggling. The author's and illustrator's notes at the end were very informative and afterwards we visited the author's website ( as recommended.

We read this book slowly, savoring one or two creatures at a time so as to fully appreciate the book. This is definitely one I'd read again, even just fo
Kiley Ellis
audience: This book would be best for students in grades 2-5. This book would be a good choice for students that are interested in animals, biology, and the history of animal and plant species.

appeal: This book is full of facts about animals and plants, and how they have adapted and survived since the beginning of time. To accompany the facts this book also contains poems written about the different animals and plants. The books also contains text features that are appealing to students. The ill
Jun 11, 2010 Agnes rated it really liked it
Shelves: j-nonfiction
A great marriage of curious scientific detail, poetry pieces, and vivid illustrations. Nature’s survivors are depicted from oldest to youngest - from bacteria to humans. Important environmental concepts are outlined in the descriptive paragraphs addressing evolution, adaptability and other significant details of the species social system such as ants cooperative nature often studied and copied by corporations. The book ends on a somber note talking about humans as “one of the most destructive sp ...more
Agnes U
Jun 09, 2015 Agnes U rated it it was amazing
This book is packed with great ideas and ways to express them. The book begins and ends with what seems to be a timeline of swirls from warm to cold colors (red, orange, yellow to blue, green). The reader is informed that sometime later after the Earth was created bacteria was formed, much later other more advanced forms of life came to the existence. I think that this is a unique and interesting way of showing children how much time can pass, comparing it to limitless line loops. The book provi ...more
Abby Johnson
Oct 15, 2010 Abby Johnson rated it it was amazing
Ubiquitous: Something that is (or seems to be) everywhere at the same time.

What do bacteria, sharks, beetles, and grass have in common? They're organisms that have adapted to be prolific over long periods of time all over the world. They're ubiquitous. In creative poems and beautiful illustrations, Sidman and Prange present these organisms and many more.

This is a really, really neat book!!
Krista the Krazy Kataloguer
Loved it! Nice poems, done in various poetic forms, accompanied by factual information, about some of the oldest surviving species on the planet. I especially liked "The Lichen We," modeled after a poem by Siegfried Sassoon, and "Tail Tale," written in the voice of a squirrel. Beautiful book--a possible Caldecott nominee for 2011? Recommended!!
Oct 23, 2010 Wendy rated it really liked it
The poems are great (some of them GREAT), but the scientific paragraphs are nothing special, which I think takes this out of serious Newbery contention. Illustrations are lovely. This has Sibert written all over it.
Kari Martycz
Mar 23, 2015 Kari Martycz rated it it was amazing
Shelves: poetry
Ubiquitous is a poetic and informational story about the process of bacteria and how certain life-forms avoided extinction. The illustrations and information about life provide readers with a wealth of knowledge. Beckie Prange's illustrations provide great detail and explanation for the great ideas in this book.

This book would be great to use in older elementary grades, to describe the process of bacteria and to explain how bacteria from a million years ago still exists today. It would also be
Rachel Barnard
Oct 21, 2014 Rachel Barnard rated it liked it
Shelves: libs642
Sidman, Joyce. Ubiquitous: Celebrating Nature's Survivors. HMH Books for Young Readers, 2010.


NCBLA - Notable Children's Books in the English Language Arts (2011)

The illustrations in this book are very detailed. This book is also full of information and poetry. This book could definitely be used in the classroom to go into detail individually on any topic in the book or as a whole. If the teacher is teaching about sharks, solely the shark pace could be used from the book.

Jul 20, 2015 Kelly rated it really liked it
The front cover is adorned with a Gecko, who also gets a two page opening in the middle of this book. The Gecko is munching a fly to show how he has survived through time as a descendant of ancient lizards. Beautiful front and back endpapers show a maze connecting Earth from 4.6 billion years ago to now from bacteria, mollusks, lichens, and sharks to dandelions, coyotes, and humans. The two page openings in this book present different types of poetry complimenting short, fact-filled text entries ...more
Sep 27, 2015 Josiah rated it did not like it
Ubiquitous: Celebrating Nature's Survivors is an unusual combination of playful poetry and traditional scientific prose. Taking on a theoretical timeline of when the selected species of the earth began to notably thrive in their home environments, author Joyce Sidman works back from the early days of specific life forms and highlights their strengths, while also pointing out their weaknesses, in the sustenance of their existence on the planet, observing as well the effect that each species has ...more
Ubiquitous: Celebrating Nature’s Survivors by Joyce Sidman (2010)
Poetry, 40 pages
In a truly ingenious marriage between poetry and science, Joyce Sidman creates a colorful lesson of the world’s 1% of species that have survived its evolution, starting with bacteria 3.8 billion years ago. With a topic that might bore non-science lovers, Sidman pairs the history of each species or large group with a poem inspired by the creature to create an engaging book to satisfy various readers’ palates. Along w
Nov 21, 2010 David rated it it was amazing
Ubiquitous (yoo-bik-wi-tuhs): Something that is (or seems to be) everywhere at the same time.

Why is the beetle, born 265 million years ago, still with us today? How did the gecko survive 160 million years? How did the shark & the crow & the tiny ant survive millions & millions of years? When 99 percent of all life forms on earth have become extinct, why do some survive? And survive not just in one place, but in many places: in deserts, in ice, in lakes & puddles, inside houses &
Apr 27, 2012 Arkbark27 rated it really liked it
Shelves: poetry
This Is An Amazing Book. It gives wondeful poems of many different types of life and you can read information about the living organism, when it evolved and it's Scientific Name. The pictures have lots of detail. There were many of things that you usually never think about, but when you read a poem about them it changes your point of view (e.g. Grass, you would never think it was so interesting if you hadn't read the poem about it). It starts at the beginning of Life and ends at the living organ ...more
Dec 05, 2012 Ed added it
Sidman, Joyce. (2010). Ubiquitous: Celebrating Nature’s Survivors. Illustrated by Beckie Prange. Boston: Houghton Mifflin. 32 pp. ISBN 978-0-618-71719-4 (Hardcover) $17.00.

Beginning with the cotton string timeline on the endpapers, proceeding through the fourteen survivors featured in the poetry, and continuing through the glossary and author’s notes, we have a book that spans the ages. Each double page spread features a poem often captured as part of the graphic design, factual information abou
Oct 15, 2013 Juliette rated it it was amazing
Shelves: infm208
From the illustration on the endpapers of a single length of yarn representing the timeline of when the earth began over 4 billion years ago to its first inhabitants of bacteria to its latest inhabitants of humans, through the poetry and pictures within, “Ubiquitous” is a unique combination of scientific fact, poetry, and humour. Although not all inclusive, the author uses fourteen different species that have found a way to adapt over time and are still currently surviving on earth today. From t ...more
Jul 01, 2012 Betsy rated it it was amazing
Shelves: children
Ubiquitous: Celebrating Nature’s Survivors by Joyce Sidman, illustrated by Beckie Prange

Kindergarten and up

After reading Ubiquitous: Celebrating Nature’s Survivors by Joyce Sidman, you will have a newfound respect for a group of organisms you never knew deserved it. From bacteria to dandelions, Sidman has written a poem accompanied by informational text about organisms which date back millions or billions of years. Sidman provides the scientific name, either the kingdom, phylum, class, or order,
Sep 18, 2014 Loraine rated it it was amazing
Sidman's poetry is a delight. Not only is it instructive, but it's playful and gets into the being of other creatures, like the squirrel in "Tail Tale" or the dandelion of "Fluff Head." Her verse is instructive, too, as are the notes on each species. And Beckie Pranger's illustrations are superb. Her timeline of the earth's life, on the endpapers of the book, is so mind-bogglingly creative. The book should have received any number of awards--perhaps the topic, evolution, is too "controversial" t ...more
Sarah VanDyke
Feb 11, 2014 Sarah VanDyke rated it liked it
I thought the book was interesting because it included a wide variety of topics. I enjoyed the poem about coyotes and ants. Some of the poems seemed strange because of their topics such as dandelions and bacteria. The poem about Mollusks was a little strange as well because of how it was written. I think the book did a good job at including different life forms. I would use this book in my classroom by reading a select few, and even doing a shared reading with the poem about crows.
Carly Kovatch
Feb 20, 2015 Carly Kovatch rated it really liked it
This is a collection of poetry celebrating the various forms of life as some believe they first appeared on earth. It is progressive from the smallest life forms to the most complex, the human. For each life form, the use of imagery is very evident. There are many concrete poems that add to the overall experience in reading. Additionally, Sideman adds factual information about each life form so that children are able to gain deeper knowledge about them.
Crete Public Library District
Feb 26, 2014 Crete Public Library District rated it it was amazing
Shelves: reviewed
Review by Miss Michelle (Youth Services)

Ubiquitous is a brilliantly crafted collection of poetry about different species of organisms that have been on our earth for billions of years. Each poem is paired with a paragraph of informational facts about creatures like bacteria, sharks, beetles, geckos, grass, and even squirrels. Did you know squirrels were the oldest group of mammals? And coyotes are better survivors than wolves? Find out more fun facts like this when you read this book!
Oct 30, 2015 Karla rated it it was amazing
Ubiquitous is the perfect book to introduce certain topics in science. This book has poetry and it also has facts about the topic that is showed in poetry. The poems is mostly about nature, plants, and animals. The art in this story is also very beautiful.

Reader Response/ Classroom Connections: This book is great for introducing a topic in science. This book can be used in biology science, marine biology, plants, and the environment.
Mar 13, 2012 Emily rated it it was amazing
Shelves: poetry
This impressive collection of poems is a tribute to the various species that have withstood the test of time on earth and still thrive today. Such animal survivors include sharks, crows, ants, and geckos. One particular survivor of nature is the focus of each poem. A diverse selection of poetic forms is represented including free verse, concrete, and rhyming. The entire collection is organized chronologically by the first known appearance of the survivors on earth. Vibrant linocut illustrations ...more
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Joyce Sidman lives in Wayzata, Minnesota.
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