Beneath the Sun
by Melissa Stewart; illustrated by Constance R. Bergum
32 pages; ages 4-8
Peachtree Publishers, 2014
When it gets hot outside, what do you do? Go inside? Sit in the shade? Turn on a fan? Drink cold lemonade? We have lots of different ways of beating the heat – but what do animals do?
In Beneath the Sun, author Melissa Stewart takes readers into four different habitats for a look at how different animals cool off on hot days. We learn about earthworm loops and horned toad hangouts, cool rocky dens and tide pools. The text is full of vivid verbs, and Constance Bergum’s illustrations beg for closer inspection.
Melissa has written tons of books for kids – more than 150 – and she’s busy on her next project. But she had time to answer Three Questions about Beneath the Sun.
Sally: What inspired this book? Being outside in July?
Melissa: I have my editor, Vicky Holifield at Peachtree Publishers, to thank for the idea behind this book. When it was clear that my previous book Under the Snow was very popular, Vicky suggested that we present “the other side of the story.” She was right. Surviving in summer isn’t easy for some animals, so they’ve come up with all kinds of amazing adaptations for enduring hot, dry weather.
Sally: I like the way you move from animals that could be in your neighborhood to more distant locations, like the desert. How did you decide what habitats – and animals – to focus on?
Melissa: Because Beneath the Sun is meant to be a companion to Under the Snow and When Rain Falls, I initially intended to focus on the same habitats as those books. In When Rain Falls, which came first, the four habitats I wrote about were a field, a forest, a desert, and a wetland. Since it doesn’t snow in deserts, for Under the Snow, I focused on animals living in fields, forests, ponds, and wetlands.
For Beneath the Sun, I could include the desert, but not forests. Because forests are dark and shady, the animals there don’t have too much trouble surviving in summer. That meant I had to search for a new habitat. Seashores were the perfect choice because they really heat up under the sizzling sun.
For all three books, I tried to include a wide variety of animals—some familiar and some that might be new to young children. I searched high and low for interesting adaptations, such as vultures that keep cool by spraying their legs with urine. I knew children would find that fascinating.
Sally: Do you have any learning activities that teachers and parents can use with Beneath the Sun ?
Melissa: I created a video mini-lesson that explains how I changed the text, adding vivid verbs to the manuscript during the revision process. It also offers tips to help students strengthen the verbs in their own writing. (Sally: and there’s a cool worksheet you can download). I also have a
Teacher’s Guide, Readers Theater script, and some activity sheets that go with the book.
Thanks Melissa! Today is the last day of the blog tour. If you missed any stops, here’s the tour schedule for earlier in the week:
Tuesday, April 15 – Geo Librarian
Wednesday, April 16 - Kid Lit Reviews
Remember to drop by STEM Friday to see what other science books and resources bloggers are sharing.Review copy provided by publisher.