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Review of Rivers of Sunlight: How the Sun Moves Water Around the Earth

rivers of sunlightstar2 Rivers of Sunlight: How the Sun Moves Water Around the Earth [Sunlight]
by Molly Bang and Penny Chisholm; illus. by Molly Bang
Primary    Blue Sky/Scholastic    48 pp.
1/17    978-0-545-80541-4    $18.99

Bang and Chisholm bring their energy-centered perspective on Earth systems to the water cycle. As in prior volumes (My Light, rev. 5/04; Living Sunlight, rev. 5/09; Ocean Sunlight, rev. 5/12; Buried Sunlight, rev. 9/14), the sun serves as narrator, showing us how its energy, upon reaching the Earth, interacts with water and supports life. The explanations hinge on the concept of flow: water flows from the atmosphere and oceans, it flows through our bodies and across our landscapes. As readers travel along with the “river of water vapor flying through the sky,” we see its transformations into clouds and rain, rivers and lakes, back into water vapor, and down into the ocean. The science is superb, moving well beyond the typical water cycle representations to emphasize the dynamic, constant, nonlinear movement of massive amounts of water. Bang and Chisholm even go down into the oceans, to explain how the flow of deep and surface currents cycles water and regulates Earth’s temperature. Bang’s illustration conventions from earlier volumes — yellow dotted waves of energy and translucent water molecules sparkling over green and brown lands, blue skies, and indigo seas — are joined here by swirls and veils of white dotted water vapor. Ocean currents are represented by yellow squiggles like sunlight flashes off the tops of waves — all thoughtfully conceived representations of chemistry and physics. The sun ends with a warning about the need for conservation and management of water resources. As in previous volumes, the book closes with extensive, strongly scientific notes, here looking at water at the molecular level; discussing the effect of climate change on Earth’s water; and more.

From the March/April 2017 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

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Danielle J. Ford About Danielle J. Ford

Danielle J. Ford is a Horn Book reviewer and an associate professor of Science Education at the University of Delaware.

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