The Books

living-sunlight-coverLIVING SUNLIGHT

Living Sunlight: How Plants Bring the Earth to Life (2008)
by Molly Bang and Penny Chisholm
Scholastic Press

*”An outstanding book to read and absorb.” — Booklist, starred review
“A magnificent celebration of life.” — Natural History Magazine

Where to Purchase

ocean-sunlight-coverOCEAN SUNLIGHT

Ocean Sunlight: How Tiny Plants Feed the Seas (2012)
by Molly Bang and Penny Chisholm
Scholastic Press

*”An awe-inspiring lesson in photosynthesis goes under the sea.” —Kirkus Reviews, starred review

Where to Purchase

buried-sunlight-co-verBURIED SUNLIGHT

Buried Sunlight: How Fossil Fuels Have Changed the Earth (2016)
by Molly Bang and Penny Chisholm
Scholastic Press

Where to Purchase

rivers-of-sunlight-coverRIVERS OF SUNLIGHT

Rivers of Sunlight: How the Sun Moves Water Around the Earth (2017)
by Molly Bang and Penny Chisholm
Scholastic Press

“The science is superb.” — Horn Book, starred review

* “The pairing of uncomplicated text and lavish illustration feels expansive, conveying amazement and awe through clear, yet poetic, visual explanations….A handsome invitation to earth science.” — Kirkus Reviews, starred review

* “An enlightening book on a vital topic.” — Booklist, starred review
Where to Purchase

Awards and Recognition

  • New England Book Award, New England Booksellers Association, 2004
  • Notable Book Award, American Library Association, 2005
  • Massachusetts Book Award, 2005.
  • American Association for the Advancement of Science SB&F Award for Excellence in Science Books
  • Banks Street Cook Prize Honor Book
  • Booklist Editor’s Choice & Top 10 Book for Youth
  • A Cooperative Children’s Book Center Choice Title
  • A Kirkus Best Children’s Book Title
  • Massachusetts Book Award
  • New York Museum of Natural History Riverby Award
  • Junior Library Guild Selection
  • Nominee, America Association for the Advancement of Science SB&F Award for Excellence in Science Picture Books
  • Chosen by Kirkus as one of the best children’s books of 2014
  • Chosen by the HORN BOOK as one of the best books of 2014
  • On NY Public Library’s “100 Children’s Book Titles for Reading and Sharing List” in 2014
  • Short list, GREEN EARTH BOOK AWARD 2015

The Authors

The Sunlight Series is a collaboration between illustrator and children’s book author Molly Bang and author and scientist Penny Chisholm.


Molly Bang is a writer-illustrator of over 30 children’s books and has won many awards including 3 Caldecott Honors, a Boston Globe/Horn Book Award, Charlotte Zolotow Award, Jane Addams Award, Giverny Award, and 2 AAAS Awards. She has also written Picture This, a book for adults showing how picture structure affects our emotions, used by graphics art courses around the world.


Penny Chisholm is a professor of Ecology at MIT, where her laboratory does research on ocean phytoplankton. They study the smallest and most abundant photosynthetic microorganism on Earth, called Prochlorococcus. This tiny creature provided some of the inspiration for the Sunlight Series. Chisholm has won numerous awards for her research, most recently the National Medal of Science, awarded by President Obama in 2013.

To listen to an interview with Molly and Penny on WGBH radio’s The Point with Heather Goldstone, click here.


Audio and Video about the Series and Authors

2013 AAAS/Subaru SB&F Prize Winner Book Talks
Author Penny Chisholm discusses Ocean Sunlight. Watch the video.

Living Lab with Heather Goldstone: Ocean Sunlight: How Tiny Plants Feed the Seas
Heather talks to Penny Chisholm and Molly Bang about The Sunlight Series. Listen to the interview..

PBS NewsHour: Without These Ancient Cells, You Wouldn’t Be Here
Oceanographer and Sunlight Series author Penny Chisholm explains how an ocean-dwelling organism called Prochlorococcus plays an important role in photosynthesis.
Watch the Video. Ocean Sunlight: How Tiny Plants Feed the Seas – Meet-the-Author Book Reading  (22 May 2013)
Penny Chisholm and Molly Bang introduce and share some of the backstory for creating Ocean Sunlight. Listen to the interview.

Articles about the Series

Chemical & Engineering News (27 Feb 2012)
Craig Bettenhausen talks with Penny Chisholm about her work with Prochlorococcus and how it has inspired her to “think about the big picture” and work on children’s books. Read the article.

School Library Journal
Earth Day 2014: School Library Journal Talks to MIT Professor Penny Chisholm about Buried Sunlight.
Read the article.

The Horn Book
July 2012 Interview by Lolly Robinson with Molly Bang and Penny Chisholm about The Sunlight Series. Read the interview.

Related Materials

The Sun Is A Mass of Incandescent Gas
Watch the video.

The Artificial Leaf
Dan Nocera has a simple formula to save the planet: sunlight + water = energy for the world. Watch the Video.