Ocean Sunlight: How Tiny Plants Feed the Seas

Ocean Sunlight: How Tiny Plants Feed the Seas

by Molly Bang, Penny Chisholm

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Acclaimed Caldecott artist Molly Bang paints a stunning, sweeping view of our ever-changing oceans.

In this timely book, award-winner Molly Bang uses her signature poetic language and dazzling illustrations to introduce the oceanic world. From tiny aquatic plants to the biggest whale or fish, Bang presents a moving, living picture of the miraculous balance


Acclaimed Caldecott artist Molly Bang paints a stunning, sweeping view of our ever-changing oceans.

In this timely book, award-winner Molly Bang uses her signature poetic language and dazzling illustrations to introduce the oceanic world. From tiny aquatic plants to the biggest whale or fish, Bang presents a moving, living picture of the miraculous balance sustaining each life cycle and food chain deep within our wondrous oceans.

On land or in the deep blue sea, we are all connected--and we are all a part of a grand living landscape. Co-authored by award-winning M.I.T. professor Penny Chisholm, a leading expert on ocean science, OCEAN SUNLIGHT is packed with clear, simple science. This informative, joyous book will help children understand and celebrate the astonishing role our oceans play in human life.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
As she did in Living Sunlight and My Light, Bang creates a character out of the sun, this time focusing on its role in the ocean’s ecosystems: “My light-energy,/ first caught by phytoplankton,/ flows through/ the ocean’s chains of life.” Bang creates dimension and visual drama with her use of gold, blues, and black, forming an ethereal habitat for phytoplankton, jellyfish, and bioluminescent creatures. The sense of movement underscores the message about energy transfer between plants and animals. Ages 4�8. (May)
From the Publisher

* "If a good picture book does what it sets out to do, a great one sets out to do something huge and succeeds. . . . An outstanding book to read and absorb."--BOOKLIST, starred review
- "Chisholm, a professor of ecology, expands on the theme [photosynthesis], while the intense greens of Bang's gouaches bring it vibrantly to life."--THE NEW YORK TIMES BOOK REVIEW
- "LIVING SUNLIGHT is less a tutorial on photosynthesis than a magnificent celebration of life."--NATURAL HISTORY

Praise for MY LIGHT:
* "A lovely and illuminating book that presents sound science while expressing the wonder of flipping a switch and flooding a room with light."--BOOKLIST, starred review
- "Bang's imagery and word choice provide a vivid text for her readers. And then there are the illustrations: phenomenal only begins to explain Bang's choices in her use of color and composition. . . . This is a picture book that should be found in all libraries."--CHILDREN'S LITERATURE

Children's Literature - Ken Marantz and Sylvia Marantz
"I am your sun...All ocean life depends on me; so does all life on land." We are then presented with a clear explanation of the role of the sun in photosynthesis on land and its connection to the food we eat. Moving to the ocean's role in the food chain, we meet "the great invisible pasture of the sea," phytoplankton. From there, the chain moves to zooplankton and on up to the largest fish—whales. As the sun does not reach the deep and dark part of the ocean, no phytoplankton can grow there. Animals living there must swim up at night to eat, eat other animals, or wait for the "marine snow" from living things to fall. The phytoplankton need the nutrients made in the deep sea. The sun must power storms to churn them up for the food chain to work. Bang uses somewhat complex page designs to deliver considerable information about the way the ocean works, all the time creating a strong sequence of esthetic images. She often uses multiple frames to isolate specific interactions, while retaining an overall sense of unity. A double page view of a sea creature eating others helps explain aspects of phytoplankton survival. The artist uses nine framed interactions in the overall darkness. Another double page scene is a jumble of linear forms drawn in yellow in the aquamarine surroundings. There are extensive additional notes to aid understanding. Reviewer: Ken Marantz and Sylvia Marantz
School Library Journal
Gr 3�5—Bang and Chisolm have written about the sun before, Bang in My Light (2004) and the pair in Living Sunlight: How Plants Bring the Earth to Life (2009, both Scholastic). Here they turn their attention to the ocean and its vast population of phytoplankton—the widespread "meadow" of the sea. The simple text follows the food chain from the tiniest of green plants (powered into life by the sun) to the biggest predators dependent on plankton-gobblers for food. The authors explain photosynthesis and the ocean layer exchange wrought by sunlight-driven currents, and even touch on the life below, where the strongest sunbeam cannot reach. Bang's stylized, dynamic illustrations are a perfect foil for the well-spaced text superimposed upon them. Some will balk at the book's opening statement: "All ocean life depends on me" (the sun), being aware of the strange world of thermal vents, colonized by bacteria capable of converting chemical compounds into food, many existing in a biome with equally unique life-forms that abound in this eerie, dark environment. In the extensive "Notes About This Book" section Bang explains "There are so many important, related concepts that we could not possibly cover them all in this book." However, she does provide much further information on the topics raised in the text, sure to be a boon to classroom teachers, homeschoolers, and puzzled parents alike.—Patricia Manning, formerly at Eastchester Public Library, NY
Kirkus Reviews
An awe-inspiring lesson in photosynthesis goes under the sea. As in this pair's previous Living Sunlight (2009), the sun addresses readers to explain the role of solar energy to support the chain of life--this time in the ocean. A summary of the process of photosynthesis occupies the first few spreads. Warm yellow sunlight suffuses these pages and small insets accompany the textual explanation of how plants make sugar from water and carbon dioxide. Then the focus moves to the sea, first near the surface, where phytoplankton grow and multiply, and then to the depths, where nutrient-rich marine "snow" sifts down to feed creatures who live away from sunlight. The transformation of sunlight, water and carbon dioxide into phytoplankton ("the great invisible pasture of the sea"), on which feed zooplankton and progressively larger animals, is set against background paintings of rich marine blues and greens. The churning and recycling of these nutrients is shown again to be a gift of the sun: "My sunlight powers winds that build great storms and mix the water layers of the seas." Bang's art is richly kinetic, with its whorls and stipples indicating plant and animal life in profusion, from the swirling microscopic creatures to graceful large fish and whales. Readers will want to visit more than once to capture both the science and the abundant sense of celebration here. (Informational picture book. 5-11)

Product Details

Scholastic, Inc.
Publication date:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
9.10(w) x 11.00(h) x 0.20(d)
770L (what's this?)
Age Range:
4 - 8 Years

Meet the Author

Molly Bang has written and illustrated more than twenty books for young readers, including WHEN SOPHIE GETS ANGRY--REALLY, REALLY ANGRY...; TEN, NINE, EIGHT; and THE GREY LADY AND THE STRAWBERRY SNATCHER, each of which were Caldecott Honor books. Bang divides her time between Falmouth, Massachusetts, and Norther California.

Penny Chisholm is a professor at MIT where she has been teaching Ecology for over thirty years. She and her students do research on phytoplankton—tiny plants that feed all life in the oceans. Her research was most recently awarded the Agassiz Medal of the National Academy of Sciences.

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