32 Books in 32 Days – Day 17: Red Sings from Treetops

Each day leading up to the April 17 announcement of the 22nd Annual Minnesota Book Awards, we highlight one of the thirty-two finalists. Today, we feature


Children’s Literature Finalist,
Red Sings from Treetops: A Year in Colors
Joyce Sidman
Illustrated by Pamela Zagarenski

Excerpt from an interview with Joyce Sidman:

“I have a book… called Red Sings from Treetops—it’s about color in nature. This book started with the deep thrill that color gives me: a flaming red maple or the soft green of new buds. But an emotion or image is not enough—I have to figure out a “voice” for the book: a way to write it so that it captures that original emotion. I played around with all sorts of color poems, touching on this idea or that, and then retreating when it didn’t feel right. This happened over the course of a year. Finally one spring I looked down at some tracks in the mud, and a line came into my head: “Look down—brown. Deer were here, and a dainty raccoon.” That line isn’t even in the book anymore, but I knew that I’d found a way in, a way of talking about color as though it were alive. After that, the book took about three months to write and another few months of tinkering. I have to go slowly. If I force it, it’s just bad poetry. And I have to give it time to rest so I can look at it with fresh eyes and see if it still works.”

This imaginative book describes the changing colors of the seasons with beautiful poems and vivid illustrations. Color becomes more than just what you see; it becomes something that you can hear and smell – something that has its own thoughts, feelings, and actions.


Joyce Sidman is the author of several books of poetry including Songs of the Water Boatman and Other Pond Poems which won the Caldecott Honor, Butterfly Eyes which won the Cybils Award, and This Is Just to Say which won the Claudia Lewis Poetry Award. Joyce was born in Connecticut, but now lives in Minnesota.

Pamela Zagarenski illustrates picture books, and also creates sculptures and large paintings, which can be viewed at an art gallery in Mystic, Connecticut. She divides her time between Stonington, Connecticut and her house on Prince Edward Island.


“Sidman’s playful text evokes the senses and creates poems that tickle your tongue when read aloud. Lovely illustrations invite thorough examination; kids will love looking for the dog that appears on nearly every page.” – Minnesota Book Awards Judge

“Joyce Sidman’s language is vivid and deft… (it) draws mystery and magic around the most familiar scenes.” – New York Times

“Talented poet Sidman fluidly moves from image to image, wittily personifying colors… the book has a freshness and visual impact all its own, and it will inspire a rainbow of uses.” – Bulletin (starred review)

“Succeeding seasons offer…opportunities for the colors to spread their particular magic…And as the title implies, the colors that surprise on every page do sing.” – Booklist (starred review)


Award winners will be announced at the 22nd Annual Minnesota Book Awards Gala on Saturday, April 17, at the Crowne Plaza Hotel, in downtown Saint Paul. The opening reception begins at 6:30 p.m.; followed by the awards ceremony at 8 p.m. Tickets are $40 and are available by clicking here or calling 651-222-3242.

Have you read Red Sings from Treetops? What are your thoughts? We welcome your comments!

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