In a larger, bold font on the opening spread of Laura Purdie Salas’ engaging, informative piece of nonfiction, Snowman – Cold = Puddle, we read that “science + poetry = surprise!” This captures well what this exploration of spring has to offer—facts about the season coupled with short, math-like poems.
Divided into three sections—Early, Mid and Late Spring—we are treated to two poems on each spread. “Warmth + light = alarm clock” is followed by text explaining that hibernating animals wake when spring arrives. Salas surprises readers with some lengthier, more thought-provoking formulas: “Maple trees x buckets + boiling = sticky smile,” we read on the page showing a young boy enjoying pancakes, post sap collection.
There is a playful nature to many of these formulas/poems: “BIG beaver + BIG beaver = little beaver,” one poem reads, while another adds seven instances of “goose” to “sky,” and the words on the page in the form of an arrow. Metaphors are also used to great effect. Scout honeybees, diving in and out of their hive, are likened to airports; frogs at night make up a “symphony;” and “sky – day” (or night) equals ‘stories.’” These innovative poem-equations bring a new awareness and a refreshing way to look at nature.
Micha Archer’s highly textured and tactile illustrations, filled with mesmerizing patterns and vivid colors, show animals in nature, as well as children exploring in the wild. The book closes with an enticing question for readers, inviting them to explore: “You + the world = ? . . . That’s an equation only you can solve!”
Julie Danielson conducts interviews and features of authors and illustrators at Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast, a children's literature blog primarily focused on illustration and picture books.