Citation: Sidman, J., & Zagarenski, P. (2010). Red sings from treetops: A year in colors. New York: Scholastic.
Red Sings From the Treetops is separated into four poems—one for each season. It opens with spring. Each poem is spaced out over multiple pages that provide simple, childlike illustrations brimming with the colors being described. The colors themselves pop from the poems as bursts of colors. The four poems make up the entirety of the book with no additional information on seasons or color associations nor a glossary, table of contents or other organizational tools.
Spotlight Poem: “Spring”
each note dropping
like a cherry
into my ear.
the maples feather,
sprouts in rhubarb spears;
red squirms on the road
Green is new
in the spring. Shy.
Green peeks from buds,
trembles in the breeze.
Green floats through rain-dark trees,
and glows, mossy-soft, at my feet.
Green drips from tips of leaves
onto Pup’s nose.
even the rain tastes Green.
Yellow slips goldfinches
their spring jackets.
Yellow shouts with light!
In spring, Yellow and Purple hold hands.
They beam at each other
with bright velvet faces.
sounds like storms:
snapped twigs and bouncing hail,
blink of lightning
and rattling BOOM!
Blue needs sun.
sparkling spring sky!
White can be quiet too:
Delicate petals filled with light
in secret places,
the color of
The imagery of this poem really stood out to me and made the words jump off the page. The first stanza alone uses the metaphor of red singing to bring the color alive. It bursts forth from the trees in such a way that it is impossible to ignore. This metaphor continues with the use of cherries, little music notes that compose the song of red throughout the season, their melodies brought to life with the onomatopoeia in the fourth line.
Throughout the poem, this rich language continues to enhance the feel of the changing colors of the season. It instructs with examples of each color’s presence (i.e. yellow goldfinches or the sun, white flowers, etc.), but it invites the reader to fully experience each color from the sound of red to the smell of white. It takes the changing world and makes it three-dimensional on the page, surrounding the reader with the experience of spring.
Each color also takes us on an emotional journey from the bold and exciting snippets of red to the shy new pink. We are treated to a tour of each emotion associated with spring.
Take 5 Activity:
- Read the poem aloud for the class and let them sit for a moment with it.
- Discuss color as a class. Let them come up with associations for each color of the rainbow (i.e. feelings, life milestones, etc.). Discuss some cultural color associations around the world.
- Read My Many Colored Days by Dr. Seuss and let the class draw connections between the book and the poem regarding emotions, seasonal or life cycle changes, etc.
- Read the poem again together as a class.
- Discuss the science behind the color changes in the seasons seen in the poem and how they affect us emotionally.