James's Reviews > Ubiquitous: Celebrating Nature's Survivors

Ubiquitous by Joyce Sidman
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Mar 01, 12


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. Combined with exceptional illustrations that enhance the experience of the world’s survivors, Ubiquitous is deserving of the ultimate accolade, for it is not only the key to our past, but the guide and the story of our present day. I would strongly recommend this book first and foremost to those who are intrigued by the art of poetry and secondly to those who might just be hungering for a piece of scientific knowledge through a pretty simple book.
Something that really struck me about this book is the first poem of the book, on bacteria(5). For although it is short and simple, it is extremely descriptive. It describes the bacteria as having “waking”, and also describes the first life on earth as “miraculous”. The reason that those words and the poem really strike at me is because they tell the hidden beauty of life. This is because in our everyday lives, I don’t know a lot of people who will take the time, and the moment in the day to just stop and celebrate the fact that they are alive. Not to say that there aren’t people like that but they are far and few between.
Something else that struck me is the poem “ The Lichen We”(8). For you really have to comb through the poem before you start to understand that the “Lichen” is actually a combination of Algae and Fungus. This thought provoking poem is “solved” and is also the perfect build up to the scientific definition on the next page, where in the very first sentence it tells you what a Lichen is. Something else that struck me about the poem is how it describes the teamwork between the fungus and algae. Through the words “ What do we share-we two together? A brave indifference to the weather. A slow but steady growing pace. Resemblance to both mud and lace(8).” The last line was particularly at the crux of why it jumped out because it shows that exterior looks don’t matter. This is shown because even though one of the organisms resembles mud and the other lace, both work together to create a successful partnership. Applying this to our lives is not hard for even if one person is dumb, the other smart, one sporty, the other lazy, there will be always a way to solve their differences and be able to work together.
Last but not least, something that really struck me is the poem on Diatoms(12). Although extremely short and easy to understand, it is like an onion. You can always peel back another layer of information each time you read it. One of the meanings that I was able to find out that really struck me was when Sidman says, “too beautiful to eat(12).” What struck me about this is that humans consume gallons and gallons of water each year in the sea but are not conscious of the beauty inside the externally plain sea water. I believe that this is the reason why Sidman is forced to use “Almost too beautiful to eat(12).”, for people are consuming them by the millions every single day.

This book shows us the unseen beauty and strength of organisms in our everyday world that we take for granted and dissects them and therefore I rate it a 4-5 star book. Joyce Sidman could easily be the next Langston Hughes, or the next Shel Silverstein, for her words are intricately woven and flow like the river. In this compilation of poems that are as beautiful as the items they describe, Joyce Sidman has produced another masterpiece.
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