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Sidman, Joyce 1956-

Sidman, Joyce 1956-

PERSONAL:

Born June 4, 1956, in Hartford, CT; daughter of Robert J. Von Dohlen (an architect); married a doctor, May 31, 1981; children: two sons. Ethnicity: "Caucasian." Education: Wesleyan University, B.A. (German), 1978; Macalester College, teacher's license, 1983. Hobbies and other interests: Gardening, bird watching, environmental issues.

ADDRESSES:

E-mail—[email protected]

CAREER:

Journalist and author. St. Paul Pioneer Press, St. Paul, MN, columnist, 1996-2000; freelance columnist, 2000—. COMPAS Writers & Artists in the Schools, St. Paul, writer-in-residence, 1997—. Volunteer in public schools and at Children's Hospital, Minneapolis, MN. Member, Loft Literary Center, Minneapolis.

MEMBER:

Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators, Children's Literature Network, Cooperative Children's Book Center (CCBC)-Net.

AWARDS, HONORS:

New Women's Voices Award, Finishing Line Press, 1999, for Like the Air; Showcase Book citation, Children's Book Council, Best Book of the Year citation, Infolink, 2000, and Children's Literature Choice List citation, 2001, all for Just Us Two; Best Book of the Year citation, Bank Street College, and nonfiction honor list citation, Voice of Youth Advocates, 2002, both for Eureka!; ASPCA Henry Bergh Children's Book Award, Minnesota Book Award finalist, and Best Books for Young Adults selection, American Library Association (ALA), all 2003, all for The World according to Dog; Booklist Editor's Choice designation, 2005, and Lee Bennet Hopkins Poetry Award, 2006, both for Song of the Water Boatman, and Other Pond Poems; CCBC Choice designation, 2006, for Meow Ruff; ALA Notable Book designation, Cybils Award for Poetry, National Science Teachers Association Outstanding Science Trade Book designation, and New York Public Library 100 Titles for Reading and Sharing inclusion, all 2006, all for Butterfly Eyes, and Other Secrets of the Meadow.

WRITINGS:

FOR CHILDREN

Just Us Two: Poems about Animal Dads, illustrated by Susan Swan, Millbrook Press (Brookfield, CT), 2000.

Eureka! Poems about Inventors, illustrated by K. Bennett Chavez, Millbrook Press (Brookfield, CT), 2002.

(With others) The World according to Dog: Poems and Teen Voices, illustrated by Doug Mindel, Houghton Mifflin (Boston, MA), 2003.

When I Am Young and Old (poetry), illustrated by Elivia Savadier, Millbrook Press (Brookfield, CT), 2003.

Song of the Water Boatman: Pond Poems, illustrated by Beckie Prange, Houghton Mifflin (Boston, MA), 2005.

Butterfly Eyes, and Other Secrets of the Meadow, illustrated by Beth Krommes, Houghton Mifflin (Boston, MA), 2006.

Meow Ruff: A Story in Concrete Poetry, illustrated by Michelle Berg, Houghton Mifflin (Boston, MA), 2006.

This Is Just to Say: Poems of Apology and Forgiveness, illustrated by Pamela Zagarensky, Houghton Mifflin (Boston, MA), 2007.

OTHER

Like the Air (poetry chapbook), Finishing Line Press (Georgetown, KY), 1999.

(Editor) Good Morning Tulip (anthology of student writing), illustrated by Dhan Polnau, COMPAS Books (St. Paul, MN), 2002.

Contributor of essays and poems to books, including Gifts from Our Grandmothers, edited by Carol Dovi, Crown (New York, NY), 2000; Stories from Where We Live: The Great North American Prairie, edited by Sara St. Antoine, Milkweed Press (Minneapolis, MN), 2001; and Line Drives: 100 Contemporary Baseball Poems, edited by Brooke Horvath and Time Wiles, Southern Illinois University Press (Carbondale, IL), 2002. Contributor of numerous poems and stories to Cricket and Cicada; of occasional columns and reviews to Riverbank Review; and of poems for adults to journals, including Christian Science Monitor, Cream City Review, ArtWorld Quarterly, and North Coast Review.

SIDELIGHTS:

Poet Joyce Sidman has written several books of verse for children and teenagers, including Just Us Two: Poems about Animal Dads, Eureka! Poems about Inventors, The World according to Dog: Poems and Teen Voices, and This Is Just to Day: Poems of Apology and Forgiveness. Characteristic of the reception her work has received, Just Us Two was praised by Christian Science Monitor contributor Karen Carden for the way that Sidman's eleven poems about animal families "capture the tenderness evident in the father-child relationship." The poems are also scientifically accurate: Sidman did extensive research into animal behavior before writing her poems, and she lists some facts about her subjects, which range from wolves to penguins and frogs, in prose form at the back of the book." Nature also takes center stage in Song of the Water Boatman, and Other Pond Poems, a Caldecott Honor title in which Sidman's award-winning collection about life in a northern pond is paired with art by Beckie Prange. In praise of the eleven poems in the collection, Joanna Rudge Long noted in Horn Book that, "with a humor born of skillful observation," Sidman and Prange "capture the essence of this environment in all its fascinating particularity."

Eureka! "celebrat[es] that combination of creative insight and steadfastness that characterizes the successful inventor," John Peters explained in his Booklist review of Sidman's middle-grade verse collection. Each of the collection's sixteen poems "invites readers inside the head of an individual who, through imagining, laboring, investigating, testing, and persevering, in some way transformed the world for generations to come," as Martha Davis Beck wrote in a review for the Riverbank Review. The individuals profiled cover a range of time, from the prehistoric woman who first used clay to make a bowl to Tim Berners-Lee, the father of the World Wide Web, and a range of fields, from science (Marie Curie, the discoverer of radiation) to recreation (Walter Frederick Morrison, the inventor of the Frisbee).

In The World according to Dog Sidman combines original poems about life with her own dog with essays by teen writers that focus on their own pets. The combination, which was awarded the Henry Bergh Children's Book Award by the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, is "sure to engage dog fanciers," Margaret Bush predicted in School Library Journal. In her review of the collection, Gillian Engberg hastened to assure Booklist readers that "even teens who prefer cats will appreciate Sidman's tight lines, sincere emotion, and clever humor." Cats and dogs are joined by other creatures in Meadow Ruff: A Story in Concrete Poetry, which features artwork by Michelle Berg. Here Sidman plays with font and the shape of her texts, combining "smooth curvy lines, chunky letters and friendly animal personalities" into a rhyming story that a Publishers Weekly reviewer dubbed a "springy treat." Meow Ruff was praised by Booklist reviewer Jennifer Mattson as "a novel entree to concrete poetry" in which readers are "offer[ed] … a glimpse of the world as a poet sees it."

Sidman once commented: "I was a verbal kid who loved school but ended up being sent out in the hallway a lot, because I couldn't help talking to my neighbor. The temptation for whispered, smart-aleck comments was just too great. I loved to draw, too, and remember creating a series of illustrated comic books with a friend about four girls from different countries (the character representing me was from Egypt, for some reason or other). My attitude toward writing was transformed by a sixth grade teacher who brought different, wacky pictures each week as story-starters. She liked what I wrote, often reading my work aloud. (My favorite books at about this period were British-style mysteries: The Diamond in the Window, by Jane Langton, and the books of Joan Aiken—The Wolves of Willoughby Chase, etc.). As an adolescent, I gravitated toward poetry, which has remained my favorite mode of expression—I love its vivid, metaphorical, condensed language.

"I was blessed with a top-notch education that exposed me to all kinds of literature, and teachers who expected first-rate writing out of me. A long-suffering high school English teacher was an ongoing mentor, reading my poems and kindly commenting on them. At Wesleyan University, I was lucky enough to study with poets Richard Wilbur and F.D. Reeve, and became a total snob about hanging out with exciting ‘creative’ people vs. boring ‘pre-med’ people. Fate had the last laugh, however: I married a doctor (a former Peace Corps worker) and have come to find his work fascinating. My husband is an avid reader and often helps me with my work.

"My children have had a profound influence on my writing life. Their personalities and interests have both broadened and inspired me. Seeing the world through their eyes was what drew me once more into children's literature. I loved those days when we would write and draw our own books together!

"The teaching I do (week-long poetry-writing residences in local K-8 schools) definitely informs my work. Turning kids on to poetry and its power is a thrill. Watching them respond to the written word—and seeing what they write about themselves—constantly reminds me of their depths and emotions. My students help me see the world in a new way, every single day I teach.

"The natural world remains central to my life, and I continue to find out more about its workings. After writing for several hours in the morning, I walk in the woods daily with my dog, Merlin (inspiration for The World according to Dog), watching the seasons progress. For me, nature and creativity are firmly entwined. With my books I hope to help young readers delve into the world outside their four cozy walls."

BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:

PERIODICALS

Booklist, October 15, 2002, John Peters, review of Eureka! Poems about Inventors, pp. 403-404; April 1, 2003, Gillian Engberg, review of The World according to Dog: Poems and Teen Voices, pp. 1405-1406; May 15, 2006, Jennifer Mattson, review of Meow Ruff: A Story in Concrete Poetry, p. 49; October 1, 2006, Gillian Engberg, review of Butterfly Eyes, and Other Secrets of the Meadow, p. 51; May 15, 2007, Randall Enos, review of This Is Just to Say: Poems of Apology and Forgiveness, p. 45.

Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books, March, 2003, review of The World according to Dog, p. 290; July-August, 2005, review of Song of the Water Boatman, and Other Pond Poems, p. 511; May, 2006, Deborah Stevenson, review of Meow Ruff, p. 422; October, 2006, Deborah Stevenson, review of Butterfly Eyes, and Other Secrets of the Meadow, p. 94.

Children's Book Review Service, November, 2000, review of Just Us Two: Poems about Animal Dads.

Christian Science Monitor, October 26, 2000, Karen Carden, review of Just Us Two, p. 21.

Horn Book, May-June, 2005, Joanna Rudge Long, review of Song of the Water Boatman, and Other Pond Poems, p. 341; May-June, 2006, Joanna Rudge Long, review of Meow Ruff, p. 338; September-October, 2006, Joanna Rudge Long, review of Butterfly Eyes, and Other Secrets of the Meadow, p. 603.

Kirkus Reviews, February 1, 2003, review of The World according to Dog, p. 239; April 1, 2005, review of Song of the Water Boatman, and Other Pond Poems, p. 424; March 1, 2006, review of Meow Ruff, p. 239; August 15, 2006, review of Butterfly Eyes, and Other Secrets of the Meadow, p. 852.

Publishers Weekly, March 28, 2005, review of Song of the Water Boatman, and Other Pond Poems, p. 79; March 20, 2006, review of Meow Ruff, p. 55; March 5, 2007, review of This Is Just to Say, p. 61.

Reading Teacher, March, 2003, Cyndi Giorgis and Nancy J. Johnson, review of Eureka!, pp. 582-590.

Riverbank Review, winter, 2000-2001, Christine Alfano, review of Just Us Two, p. 55; spring, 2002, Joyce Sidman, "Touching the World," pp. 25-27; winter, 2002-2003, Martha Davis Beck, review of Eureka!, pp. 56-57.

School Library Journal, December, 2000, Carolyn Angus, review of Just Us Two, p. 136; January, 2003, Susan Oliver, review of Eureka!; May, 2003, John Peters, review of Eureka!, p. 103, and Margaret Bush, review of The World according to Dog, p. 177; July, 2005, Shawn Brommer, review of Song of the Water Boatman, p. 92; July, 2006, Susan Scheps, review of Meow Ruff, p. 94; October, 2006, Margaret Bush, review of review of Butterfly Eyes, and Other Secrets of the Meadow, p. 142; May, 2007, Lee Bock, review of This Is Just to Say, p. 162.

ONLINE

Children's Literature Network Web site,http://www.childrensliteraturenetwork.com/ (June 30, 2003).

Joyce Sidman Home Page,http://www.joycesidman.com (August 10, 2007).

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