Quote of the Month

When love and skill work together, expect a miracle. John Ruskin

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Shine On

There is something soothing about seeing the sun rise in the morning or set in the evening, even if it is covered by clouds at the beginning or end of the day.  The sun's powerful presence is a sign of stability.  We welcome it even on those relentlessly hot summer days.

We know the sun provides us with heat and light.  It also plays a critical role in the sustaining of life on our planet with respect to water.  Rivers of Sunlight: How The Sun Moves Water Around The Earth (The Blue Sky Press, an imprint of Scholastic Inc., January 31, 2017) written by Molly Bang and Penny Chisholm with illustrations by Molly Bang is a timely volume in the continuing The Sunlight Series.  It strengthens your previous knowledge and increases your understanding about water.

My energy warms your days.
I light up your world.

If you stop to think about it, it's remarkable how Earth is the only planet in this solar system filled with life.  As the Sun tells us, it's because Earth is covered with water.  Most of this water is salt water found in the oceans and seas.

 A tiny, tiny portion of fresh water is keeping everything alive.  It accomplishes this huge task by movement.  Water moves on Earth like it travels through our bodies when we drink a glass of water.  The Sun keeps it in motion.

Its heat causes the water to rise from the oceans and seas, evaporating and joining a cloak of water vapor surrounding the planet.  Specks of dust attach to the vapor forming drops which gather to shape clouds.  These clouds release the water back to the oceans and seas.  Sometimes the evaporated water joins another natural force; a river of vapor in the sky.  The rain or snow then falls on land blown by winds generated by the Sun.  Did you know there is a layer acting like

a giant sponge 

underground?  These aquifers save fresh water

for thousands of years.

The Sun continues to shine repeating the evaporation process on all plant life.  Its light ignites photosynthesis after plants soak up water through their roots and release it as vapor.  This cycle of bringing up and sending back down involves

a HUNDRED quadrillion gallons of fresh water

each year.  That number is completely mind-boggling!

Another impressive fact is the Sun works its marvels within the oceans and seas moving water there too.  Its light and heat work their magic on Earth's water at the equator and then moves it in the Gulf Stream.  You won't believe how this water works another kind of magic as it reaches the northern realms.  Think of an enormous waterfall and an equally enormous water highway called the Ocean Conveyor Belt.

The Sun goes on to explain the force of water to affect change in our landscape, to draw populations to its sources and how those people worked to utilize the water.  Did you know

The total amount of water on your Earth will always be the same?

Yet, our population keeps growing.  Another agent shifting the balance is the warming of our climate.  In the final page our Sun makes a pledge and asks a question.  We need to give it an answer which will ensure the continuation of life.

This nonfiction narrative written by Molly Bang and Penny Chisholm explains the influence of our sun on our water masterfully.  After we read the words

Together, water and I
give LIFE to your blue planet,
and to YOU 

every page turn offers support for this claim.  The text flows with a cadence like water from the comparisons of amounts of all water and fresh water to its evaporation from the oceans and seas and release back in the form of rain and snow on the oceans, seas and land, to its storage in aquifers, how it moves within the sea, its power to turn rocks into sand or cut canyons, and how the sun and water preserve all life.  Punctuation, words in all capitals and repetition of key phrases generate further pacing.

Questions are tucked in the story with answers presented.  Using the sun as the narrator gives more importance to the information.  You can sense the underlying pride our sun feels as it gives us life.  Readers in turn with feel their respect grow as they are continuously amazed.  Here is a sample passage.

Yes, I move a giant river INSIDE the seas.
Just as water circulates in YOU, to
feed you, flush your wastes, and 
regulate your temperature, the
ocean river does the same 
throughout the seas.

My light heats your Earth's 
equator steadily all year long, so
the surface water there stays warm.

My winds help move a wide current of that
warm water west, until...
the current bounces against land---the Americas!---
and curls back into swirling eddies.

When readers run their hands over the opened dust jacket, they can feel the raised text.  The color palette shown on the matching dust jacket and book case remains true throughout the title with the addition of full color in appropriate places.  The child riding in the boat in the current flowing from Africa is shown in every image engaged in an activity relative to the narrative; floating up with a handful of balloons, riding in a kayak holding an umbrella for shelter from rain or flying in an airplane over canyons and valleys.  To the left, on the back, is an interior picture placed above a list of the other titles in this series, My Light: How Sunlight Becomes Electricity, Living Sunlight: How Plants Bring the Earth to Life, Ocean Sunlight: How Tiny Plants Feed the Seas and Buried Sunlight: How Fossil Fuels Have Changed the Earth

The opening and closing endpapers are a star-studded swirling mass of deep blues.  With a page turn we are greeted by a stunning array for the title page extending across two pages.  On the right our planet is depicted with the addition of golden waves, lines and curves giving us a vision of how the sun moves water.  These lines move to the left where the secondary text and author and illustrator names are shown along with the publisher.  The child is drifting over the top of the words with a parachute.

The seventeen illustrations by Molly Bang will take your breath away in their marvelous portrayal of the water's movement by the sun.  More times than not she will add animals, plants and other objects like boats in the pictures of the land and sea.  Her details are exquisite.  She shifts her perspective to add more meaning to the text.  For emphasis she encloses visuals with a golden yellow frame within a larger image.  You will find yourself pausing to look at each illustration carefully.

One of my many favorite illustrations is when we learn about the river of water vapor in the sky and aquifers.  On the left snow and rain are falling from clouds to mountains below them.  River branches reach into the mountains.  On the right water is rising from the sea in a wave of evaporation.  The child is riding a carpet on this wave.  Beneath the land we see how the aquifer is formed and collects water.  The design and layout is gorgeous.

Rivers of Sunlight: How The Sun Moves Water Around The Earth written by Molly Bang and Penny Chisholm with illustrations by Molly Bang is a must-have title for your professional and personal bookshelves.  You can't help but feel total awe for our sun upon completion of this title.  Everyone will learn something new.  At the close of the book six pages are devoted to further information about each of the sections.  Did you know a single

large tree can transport nearly 100 gallons of water from the soil to the atmosphere each day... ?

To discover more about this outstanding collaborative team please follow the links attached to their names to access websites about them and their work.  There is a separate website for the series linked to that title.  At this publisher's website you can view and read one of the two-page spreads.

Remember to visit Kid Lit Frenzy hosted by educator Alyson Beecher to see the title selected by other bloggers participating in the 2017 Nonfiction Picture Book Challenge.

1 comment:

  1. I wrote about this book last week! I think this whole series is a mentor text for some of the new science standards. So much to talk about - the books could be used for almost an entire curricula! Imagine that.... just picture books :)