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Ocean Sunlight: How Tiny Plants Feed the Seas
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Ocean Sunlight: How Tiny Plants Feed the Seas

4.1 of 5 stars 4.10  ·  rating details  ·  212 ratings  ·  67 reviews
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 l...more
Hardcover, 48 pages
Published May 1st 2012 by The Blue Sky Press
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Extra Yarn by Mac BarnettAnd Then It's Spring by Julie FoglianoGreen by Laura Vaccaro SeegerThe Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore by William JoyceThis is Not My Hat by Jon Klassen
2013 Mock Caldecott
64th out of 97 books — 230 voters
Whoopie Lee 2 by Adeline FooSherlock Sam and the Missing Heirloom in Katong by A.J. LowA Boy and A Bear in a Boat by Dave SheltonFrom the Good Mountain by James RumfordOcean Sunlight by Molly Bang
Red Dot 2014: Younger Readers: LONG LIST
5th out of 25 books — 25 voters

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Community Reviews

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Lisa Vegan
I deliberately read this the same day, immediately after reading Living Sunlight: How Plants Bring The Earth To Life; that book was published in 2009 and this book was published in 2012.

This book is structured the same as the above-mentioned book. The bulk of the book consists of gorgeous illustrations with information provided by the sun as narrator. Some of the information is rather sophisticated and I think better suited toward older elementary school children. That’s particularly true of the...more
Krista the Krazy Kataloguer
I hope this one at least wins a Sibert Medal this January! It's another excellent book about light, this time about how light "powers" the food chain in the ocean, from the tiny plankton to the whales. Between the text and the gorgeous pictures the concepts presented are clearly explained. I learned a few things myself. Imagine--half the oxygen produced on earth comes from phytoplankton in the sea! That's a HUGE reason not to pollute our oceans. At the end of the book Molly Bang provides further...more
Very well told story about how phytoplankton are the starting point for the chain of life in the seas. My niece was particularly interested in this book, and was quite taken aback to learn that the "green" in our seas is everywhere (in the form of phytoplankton). Both children were completely disgusted by marine snow (my nephew exclaimed, "WHAT?! There's poop in it?! Fish eat other fishes' poop?! That's disgusting!! WHO WROTE THIS BOOK?!"). I, however, was quite pleased that the author didn't su...more
As in the case of their earlier title, Living Sunlight, this terrific team simplifies in easy-to-grasp concepts the science link between the sun and the oceans. Back matter includes thumbnail sketches that expand on the information provided in the narrative. The text and lushly detailed illustrations make it very clear that there is plenty of green even in the deep blue ocean. This is science for children at its best. Gosh! How I wish books such as this one existed when I was young.
Jim Erekson
I could have used this book years ago when we were doing an inquiry project on oceans, and we could hardly find anything on plankton. This is a great book for making single-celled phytoplankton into an interesting thing to look at and think about.

This book reminds me of Virginia Lee Burton's Life Story in its storytelling and composition style. It emphasizes the beauty of the life cycles and the organisms themselves, but without making them cute or non-dangerous.

This book also has the extended...more
When I taught 5th grade, one of our science units was about the oceans. My students learned about food systems, the ocean zones and floor, and animal adaptations. My students didn't really know very much about oceans before I began the unit and it was so much fun to introduce them to so much new information.

That's a long introduction to help explain why I like this book so much. It's the perfect science read aloud for an ocean unit for students in grades 3 - 5. The information is accurate, beaut...more
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...more
Abby Johnson
The sun feeds green plants, which in turn feed animals on land, creating a food chain. But what about animals in the oceans? Invisible pastures of phytoplankton! Accessible language is paired with brightly colored illustrations to present the complexities of the ocean food chain in a very kid-friendly way. Great for units on the ocean, food chains, or the environment. Pair it with Loree Griffin Burns' excellent TRACKING TRASH for an even more thorough understanding about why polluting our oceans...more
Patricia Bandre
Excellent book - it uses reader-friendly language and examples, yet does not "talk down" to children about how the sun fuels life on Earth - on land and in the sea. Besides the wonderful text, the illustrations are magnificent and the back matter provides plenty of extra information for curious readers.
Edward Sullivan
Spectacular illustrations and excellent information about the ocean food chain.
Gorgeous and handles a very sophisticated concept well for young readers.
Molly Bang and Penny Chisholm once again explain in clear, straight forward terms how the cycle of sunlight, plants, and animals, and all living things work through a specific scope.

The illustrations were gorgeous and the information timely and extremely well-written for children. Bang doesn't coat over some of the details but describes them simply and clearly. Which is good because she gets into some really specific details regarding phytoplankton, zooplankton, photosynthesis, marine snow, and...more
Jean Haberman
Ocean Sunlight tries to cover too many hard concepts and from the sun, photosynthesis, molecules, carbon dioxide, the food chain, phytoplankton, oxygen, zooplankton, marine snow, mucus, carcasses, bacteria, etc. It was a confusing book. The illustrations are beautiful, but do not clearly illustrate the concepts.

There are detailed notes at the end of the book further explaining the concepts. This book could supplement a science unit about any of these subjects. I would use it...more
Education is vastly underrated in America. It's probably the sheer amount we're expected to learn, in comparison to the grade school aged baby boomers. But, hey, that's rationalization. People know stuff, and they know stuff they're good at, but we could always know more stuff.

This book surprised me. I consider myself knowledgeable. Ocean Sunlight made me feel ignorant. This is something that is probably known to today's grade school aged child. And then some. It also made me marvel at our home,...more
Lu Benke
What a rich book! Rich in illustration, in information, and in ways of looking at our world. Because of the first person voice, it felt like someone who knew a lot about ecological systems handed us some insights best seen from the vantage point of the solar system. It would have been a great book to share in a storytime or classroom yesterday--Earth Day. The way the bright yellow of the sun is repeated throughout the book keeps the message of its role in our minds. (Still, I was a bit uncomfort...more
Amber Hestwood
Oh, how I wish I had this book when I was taking biology! This is a great book about, you guessed it, ocean sunlight. It is a non-fiction book about how the sun powers the ocean and the earth and the life cycle. This would be a book that I would most definitely use for a life science lesson for my fourth through sixth grade students. It would be a grade add-on for the text book or an additional learning tool for those students who might be struggling with the subject area. The text in the book i...more
May 14, 2014 Jennifer rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: elementary librarians
Really well-written literary nonfiction book about how the sunlight manages to provide it's light to the depths of the seas. The illustrations are excellent at making the tiniest of plants accessible to students, as if they were looking through a microscope at them. Food chains are shown accurately, but not gorily graphic. And I learned that it "snows" in the ocean! Read the book to find out how.
Loree Burns
If you were reading my blog back in 2010, you might remember my love for LIVING SUNLIGHT, the brilliant picture book, also by Bang and Chisholm, that introduced young readers to the process of photosynthesis and the chemistry of life on our planet. I still recommend that book to kids, teachers, and strangers on the street; it is simply the most accessible look at the topic I’ve ever seen.

And now, a sequel to sing about!

OCEAN SUNLIGHT furthers the story, sharing with readers the tale of a “billio...more
Carol Surges
Amazing things can happen when an award-winning artist collaborates with a respected subject-specialist. Once again this team gives readers a visual and scientific treat. Ocean food chains have never been seen like this before and readers will never underestimate the role of phytoplankton in it. The authors steer clear of a heavy-handed ecological lesson but their notes at the end provide further detail on specific creatures and aspects of the topic that were avoided or brushed over. These end n...more
a non-fiction book about how the sun powers the ocean and the earth and the life cycle. This would be a book that I would most definitely use for a life science lesson for a fourth through sixth grade students. It would be a grade add-on for the text book or an additional learning tool for those students who might be struggling with the subject area. The text in the book is written in simple terms so it is very easy to understand and it correlates directly with the pictures that the students are...more
Explains how all life on the Earth depends, directly or indirectly, on light from the sun, and describes how all ocean life, from the tiniest plankton to great whales, including the creatures in the darkest depths, form a web that uses sunshine.
Author and illustrator Molly Bang, known for her vibrant illustrations, dips her paintbrush and prose into the ocean with this picturebook style non-fiction work. Misleadingly titled "Ocean Sunlight", this book is mostly about the food chain and life cycle of plants and animals on land and in the sea. Sunlight itself tells the story of how all living things get their energy from it.

Overall the book is a bit disjointed and does not flow well. Readers are bumped from land into sea, talking about p...more
The Styling Librarian
Ocean Sunlight How Tiny Plants Feed the Seas by Molly Bang & Penny Chisholm - Great for 2nd grade and up- sometimes more for older children but younger students can also get a lot out of the book- absolutely gorgeous pictures lead you through this gorgeous informational book told from the perspective of the sun. Loved how the book was packed with information, led you through the ecosystem, and didn't thump you over the head with information on how the earth is ruined but instead shared hope...more
Bang does it again with lovely art but the story is a little too detailed for storytime.
Gorgeous illustrations and great explanation of food webs.
Excellent resource for an ocean unit.
Jie Gao
Good logic. Promoting inquiries.
Like her previous two "light" books, Molly Bang takes an interesting and informative look at how ocean plants get sunlight to grow and feed the ocean's creatures and continue the life cycle. Plenty of specific info in the back to explain further all of the concepts in this book. Enjoyed the illustrations as well. When covering plants or light, ocean-life is often forgotten. Good to explore with students.
Jul 21, 2012 Lorelle rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: teachers
Wonderful text that clearly explains the importance of sunlight to all of life, but especially to ocean life. In fact, it connects the importance of ocean life to all of us and our need for sunlight. The very colorful, full two-page spread illustrations move the text along and help to explain the text. Great text to use during science unit on adaptations of living things.
Interesting very introductory level of phytoplankton and photosynthesis occurring in the ocean and how it occurs/benefits all levels of the ocean. "Marine snow" was a new term for me.

There is six pages of further info regarding this process, but I felt I was just reading words without much clarity of the subject in these six pages.
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