Ocean Sunlight

Ocean Sunlight cover

Age Range: 4 – 10 years
Grade Level: Preschool – 5
Lexile Measure: 770L
Hardcover: 48 pages
Publisher: The Blue Sky Press (May 1, 2012)
ISBN-10: 0545273226
ISBN-13: 978-0545273220

About the Book

An ‘invisible pasture’ of microscopic plants lives on the sunlit surface of the ocean. These plants – phytoplankton – reproduce so fast that they not only feed all the creatures living in the sea but also give us half the oxygen continually added to our air. The book describes how phytoplankton catch the sun’s energy and pass it on to all marine life, and how the waste from ocean plants and animals is swept up from the seafloor to become food for the plants and re-enter the cycle once again.

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BOOKLIST ★ Like its companion books, My Light (2004) and Living Sunlight (2009), this richly illustrated, densely informative picture book is narrated by the sun.
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BOOKLIST EDITORS CHOICE 2012  Never underestimating its child audience, this ambitious, visually brilliant picture book shows how the sun supports life by sustaining the ocean’s microscopic phytoplankton, an essential part of marine food chains and a major supplier of the earth’s oxygen.

THE BOOKLIST READER   Cindy: Photosynthesis never looked so beautiful! Ocean Sunlight: How Tiny Plants Feed the Seas (Scholastic/Blue Sky 2012) is a new offering from the dynamic duo of children’s author-illustrator Molly Bang and MIT professor Penny Chisholm who brought us Living Sunlight (2009).
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KIRKUS  ★  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 in supporting the chain of life—this time in the ocean.
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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
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  • American Association for the Advancement of Science SB&F Award for Excellence in Science Books
  • Massachusetts Book Award
  • Banks Street Cook Prize Honor Book
  • New York Museum of Natural History Riverby Award

Teaching Materials

To see Discussion Questions and Activities for Ocean Sunlight, please click here.


To watch a video of William, age 5, interpreting ocean food chains, click here.

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