Review: Ocean Sunlight by Molly Bang

ocean sunlight

Ocean Sunlight: How Tiny Plants Feed the Seas by Molly Bang and Penny Chisholm

Following her Living Sunlight book, this continues the story of how the sun makes life on earth possible.  Here, the focus is on the ocean and the role that sunlight plays even in the darkest depths of the sea.  The story starts with photosynthesis and food chains on dry land, then moves to the water.  Bang asks where the green plants in the ocean are except for the seaweed.  Then she shows the tiny phytoplankton that make up the plants of the sea.  The food chain is shown and the book then turns to the darkness of the deep and how the food chain works even in blackness.  It is beautiful science. 

Bang successfully combines poetry and science in this enticing picture book. Her tone is inviting, inquisitive and filled with wonder at the amazing things that happen due to our sun.  The book is written from the point of view of the sun itself and how its energy reaches everywhere on earth.  It is a celebration of the sun and of the oceans themselves too.

Chisholm’s art ranges from the glow of the yellow sun to the black deep of the ocean.  Everywhere, even in the darkness, you can see the energy of the sun.  When the phytoplankton are displayed, Chisholm shows them up close in all of their wonderful detail.  Then the energy of the sun dances above the waves in yellow dots.  The entire book sings with energy and light.

This book is a tribute to science and nature.  It’s a readable and very understandable look at the complex systems that make our lives possible.  Appropriate for ages 5-8.

Reviewed from library copy.

Review: Alek by Bodil Bredsdorff


Alek by Bodil Bredsdorff

This final book in The Children of Crow Cove series has Doup as the main character.  Doup came to Crow Cove as a child with the Crow-Girl.  He has lived there all of his life but misses his older brother Ravnar who has moved away.  Doup reclaims his birthname of Alek and heads off with his father to town to find Ravnar.  They discover his empty home that is dirty and dank. Ravnar only appears when his boat is in harbor, otherwise he is out fishing for a living.  Alek’s father leaves him with Ravnar and returns to Crow Cove.  But one night, Alek witnesses a shipwreck on the beach where the sailors were tricked into beaching the boat.  He then sees a man murdered and discovers a young girl hiding away from the beach.  Alek takes the girl home with him, though she doesn’t speak his language.  Young Alek has to figure out what happened and then what to do about it.

I’ve adored this series for some time.  The writing is so natural and easy.  It is steeped in its seaside setting and filled with small details that bring their world to life.  This final book has plenty of action to move the story along, but it still remains a book about everyday life and creating a family out of the people who are with you.  From the small details of hunting and farming to information on meals and shopping, this book like the others in the series is a small book filled with the largeness of a life well led.

Definitely start with the first in the series.  As the series moves forward, the characters grow and age, offering a look at the results of their decisions in earlier books.  The strength of these books are in the complex characters, the fine details and the glory of the natural setting.

This is a fittingly strong final volume in a delight of a series.  Appropriate for ages 10-12.

Reviewed from copy received from Farrar Straus Giroux.