nonfiction nuggets…how do fish eat sunshine?

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

You know the photosynthesis recipe:  a slurp of water, a breath of carbon dioxide, a bountiful measure of sunlight, mix it all together and voila!  a plant concocts some wonderful sugar-food for itself.

Now comes the food chain:  Sun energy is absorbed by plants, we gobble up those lovely garden peas thereby consuming the life-giving energy that came from the sun.


how does this work in the depths of the ocean?  Hm?  Way out in the ocean, far from the reedy shores or water-lily-strewn backwaters, where are the plants to catch the light to make the food to provide the plant-eaters with the necessary energy?

Molly Bang and Penny Chisholm are here to tell you that those plants are there, all right.  Billions and billions of ’em.  Right smack in front of our eyes.  They’re just so tiny we can’t see them.  These hordes of phytoplankton are incredibly vital.  They “form the great invisible pasture of the sea.”

This is a fascinating book, extremely well-told and illustrated, that will inform your kids about the vast microscopic plant life that feeds the multitudinous creatures of the sea.  But there’s more!  The authors also reveal the Ultra Cool Special Method whereby even the creatures at the very inky depths of the ocean are able to gobble up sunlight.

Fabulous science, brilliant explanation, and Molly Bang’s bold illustrations manage to make phytoplankton and inky blackness zing with  mystique and vibrancy.  There are several pages of excellent notes included which provide a more in-depth, upper-elementary-level explanation of each concept in the book.  The main story is accessible to early elementary children.

This is one of the most outstanding non-fiction titles I’ve read recently.  Share it with your children, marvel at the intricacies of the world, and take care of our interconnected planet-home.

Here’s the Amazon link:  Ocean Sunlight: How Tiny Plants Feed the Seas