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Saturday, April 17, 2010

Ubiquitous, written by Joyce Sidman and illustrations by Beckie Prange. Houghton Mifflin, T Allen. 2010.


"The ants, the ants
on tips of plants,
on sticks, on stones,
on ice cream cones:
beneath the ground
they ebb and flow,
precisely know
who's friend, who's foe."

The endpapers show the journey we are about to take. Our starting point is 'Earth, newly formed, 4.6 billion years ago'. The long and complicated trail that leads to our end point is drawn to a scale of 1 cm equalling 1 million years. It is hard to fathom...even when it is right in front of our eyes!

As we move along the maze line that leads us, we come upon bacteria (first life) and for many millions of years, nothing else. A diamante describes it and on the facing page, a scientific report about life's beginnings in the form of single-celled organisms is visible. Moving forward, we come upon the mollusks which are described in poetic form, using similar format to add interest and research for the reader. Then lichens, sharks, beetles, diatoms, geckos, ants, grasses, squirrels, crows, dandelions, coyotes and humans. We are at the end of a long line of survivors living on 'Earth today, home to more than 1.8 million known species'. It is an amazing journey!

It is a unique and fascinating format also used in their previous book, Song of the Water Boatman: a paragraph of factual information, a beautifully researched illustration and a poem -- all about a certain form of life.

There is a helpful glossary, acknowledgements to those who helped with the accuracy of the text and a note from both author and illustrator. They are worthy of our attention.

Joyce Sidman reminds her readers that the success stories throughout evolutionary time are indeed remarkable. The illustrator says that the timeline created to help us understand the vastness is actually 46 meters of cotton string. It really opens our eyes to the immensity of it all.

14 poems and so much more. I can't do justice to many...you have to see them for yourselves, but I will include this one:

"Come, come with us!
Come kindle the blue twilight.
Come croon in the wild chorus,
come vanquish the tranquil night."

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