In which Annie (high school teacher, mother of two young girls and a younger boy) and her aunt Deborah (children's bookseller, mother of two young women in their 20s) discuss children's books and come up with annotated lists.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Sustenance from above

Dear Annie,

Flip Flap Airport is a big favorite of mine.  Lots to look at -- and even grownups can learn things they didn't know about how things operate behind the scenes.

We stayed on the ground on our mini-vacation.  We saw Monticello in the rain, then drove across Virginia and south to Kitty Hawk.  It was wonderful -- motivated me to search hard for a good kids' book on the Wright Brothers.  Their story is fascinating, full of math and science and scientific method.  And sibling shouting matches -- good stuff.

Our motel was on the beach, with dolphins and pelicans cavorting out our window.  One thinks a lot about the sea when one is on a long thin barrier island, so I'm offering a book on the subject for today's entry.

Ocean Sunlight: How Tiny Plants Feed the Seas
by Molly Bang and Penny Chisholm is the third in a series of science books narrated by the sun.
I am your sun, your golden star.
All ocean life depends on me;
so does all life on land.
It's a sumptuously illustrated picture book outlining the basics of sea life.  I still need to get a new scanner, alas.  We have pages of blue and green wonderfully complex drawings of phytoplankton, which "form the great invisible pasture of the sea."  We go through the food chain, on up to big fish and whales.  Then, a two-page spread that's almost all the black of the deep sea, with a tiny strip of blue at the surface.  How, the sun asks, can animals live in the deep sea when phytoplankton can't because there's no sun.
   They wait for SNOW.
   This snow isn't made of ice.  "Marine snow" is tiny flakes from living things.  As animals and phytoplankton live and die, their poop and mucus, carcasses and guts, sink down and down, like falling flakes of snow.  Marine snow is nutritious food for bacteria and other creatures living in the sunless belly of the sea.
   Nothing is wasted.
Nutritious poop falling from above -- an image that could stay with future marine biologists for a long time.  It's a lovely book, with clear explanations throughout.

I miss that ocean...




  1. Children's book about the Wright Brothers--that brought back memories. My sister and I loved the Valuetales books (which just goes to show that they aren't nearly as didactic or condescending as the series name might lead you to believe):

    When We went to Kitty Hawk about ten years ago I was amazed at how much I remembered.

    1. Just looked at the cover image, which would not have encouraged me to pick it up on my own, but I will now. It goes on the library list. Thanks, Kathryne!