School Library Journal
(April 1, 2004; 0-439-48961-X)
Gr 1-5-Bang has chosen a huge topic, and in some ways, it overwhelms her. Writing in the voice of the sun, the first-person narrative investigates various forms of energy on Earth, all derived in one way or another from the light and heat of this solar system's major star. It's an enormous task-how to describe the weather cycle, dams, turbines, electricity and its generation, windmills, fossil fuels (she mentions coal but leaves out oil), and solar cells in an illustrated book for fairly young children-and Bang is only moderately successful. Indeed, in the introduction to four pages of much denser end matter, the author mentions that her notes started turning into an encyclopedia, but, mercifully, an editor "cut them WAY back. Now those notes are on my Web site at www.mollybang.com, and I hope interested readers will do further research on their own." Overall, the author makes a valiant stab, and for science-minded children who can absorb a large amount of information, this title could be an interesting selection. Her stunning and technically accomplished illustrations, as always, are radiant and worth a look. Despite its shortcomings, this ambitious book is an illuminating auxiliary purchase.-Dona Ratterree, New York City Public Schools Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
(February 23, 2004; 0-439-48961-X)
With the carefully honed prose and wholly original visual imagination that have long been her hallmarks, Bang (When Sophie Gets Angry-Really, Really Angry...) explores the many ways in which the sun's light is transformed into the energy that fuels almost everything on the earth. Children will like the voice: the speaker is the sun ("your golden star"). The energy from "my light" becomes the book's recurring visual motif: Bang visualizes it as undulating necklaces of golden, effervescent dots that travel through space, pulsate through power lines and wind in and out of generators. Each sequence of spreads examines a form and function of the sun's energy. Bang explains how sunlight drives the water cycle, creating rain that carries "my energy down, down, down" via rivers to a dam ("You humans stop the flow. My energy is trapped.... Whoosh! The water spins the turbines round and round. It spins my energy to generators, which make electricity"). Page after page of compelling images illuminate the drama of the text: a jungle brought to life by photosynthesis; a parade of soaring, buzzing power lines, standing against a purple-gray sky, cleaved by lightning. In the lengthy but spirited afterword (readers are referred to the author's Web site for even more information), Bang notes that although she had little prior interest in energy, her fascination grew the more she delved into the subject. Youngsters should find her enthusiasm electrifying. Ages 4-up. (Mar.) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
(February 1, 2004; 0-439-48961-X)
Gr. 1-3. A typical science text for kids might define light as shifting electromagnetic fields. In Bang's outstanding new picture-book exploration of light and energy, electromagnetism is mentioned only in the endnote, and the accessible text, narrated by the sun (I am your sun, a golden star. You see my radiance as light ), will be far more meaningful for children than one with stock definitions. Bang focuses on four scenarios in which the generation of electricity can be traced back to the sun: a hydroelectric dam, wind turbines, a coal-burning plant, and solar cells. Making the connection between light, water, wind, and electricity requires a conceptual leap, but tiny yellow dots representing the sun's power as it streams from one form to another will help children grasp the principle of energy conservation. Bang's strong design sense comes through in compositions that gracefully incorporate diagrams a