Unlikely Companions

My answer to the question about my college major sometimes took people aback. When I said, “I had a double major in English and science,” they often looked askance. [I’ve always wanted an excuse to use that word.] Science and English apparently don’t seem to be a matched set.

I carefully followed the requirements for the English major to be sure I graduated. For the science major, I took a little bit of this, a little bit of that – whatever I was curious about. I studied chemistry, both inorganic and organic; biology, both botany and zoology; and a really interesting class in genetics. I was not curious about physics.

As this year’s Fay B. Kaigler Children’s Book Festival approaches, I’ve discovered a kindred spirit. Joyce Sidman has written a series of picture books that combine poetry with science. As a sample, in Dark Emperor and Other Poems of the Night, she has “New Spider’s Advice” on the left page. It begins:

Build a frame
And stick to it,
I always say.
Life is a circle
Just keep going around.

It continues in a jocular ode to the night spider. The opposite page gives scientific information about that spider that will entertain the child as well as the adult who is reading it aloud.

She follows a similar pattern for Song of the Water Boatman and Other Pond Poems and Butterfly Eyes and Other Secrets of the Meadow. All of her books that I found in our local library have one foot in poetry of numerous kinds and one foot in science.

My discovery of this kindred spirit arose as I prepared for our discussion of her books this week at the de Grummond Book Group. Feel free to join us in the display room on the second floor of Cook Library on Thursday, February 18 at 11:30 AM if you are in the neighborhood. And it’s not too late to sign up for the book festival so you can hear her speak. (WWW.USM.EDU/CHILDRENS-BOOK-FESTIVAL)  

You’ve got to love a poetic scientist – or would that be a scientific poet?