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Buried Sunlight: How Fossil Fuels Have…
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Buried Sunlight: How Fossil Fuels Have Changed the Earth

by Molly Bang

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The sun is wierdly anthropomorphized, so this didn't work for me.
  themulhern | Dec 20, 2017 |
Bang, M., Chisholm, P. (2014). Buried Sunlight: How Fossil Fuels Have Changed the Earth. New York, New York: Scholastic Inc.

This is one book from a series of books that involve sunlight in the name. The book is about fossil fuels and the environment and it is told from the perspective of the sun. It shows how oil, coal, and gas are buried sunlight that have been trapped underneath the surface of the earth for many years. It then goes on to talk about how we are finding, digging up, and using all of these resources. This book is written by a author-illustrator, and is co-authored by a professor at MIT who has taught Ecology for 38 years and has won many awards.

This book won the Green Earth Book Award, which is given to books that help raise respect, appreciation, and awareness of our environment. The award is announced on earth day by The Nature Generation program. This book also appeared on New York Public Library’s “100 Children’s Book Titles for Reading and Sharing List”. ( )
  jangelique | Nov 20, 2016 |
I didn't realize this was a series! I read and loved Ocean Sunlight, but somehow missed a couple other titles along the way. Today, I'm looking at Buried Sunlight.

Beginning with dark blue endpages, speckled with starry points of light, this lovely book explains fossil fuels in a simple, accessible way. The sun, who acts as the narrator, explains how its energy is trapped in plants through photosynthesis and then hidden deep under the earth. That energy is accessed when we burn the fuels. A sense of the eons of time required to build up fossil fuels is shown in the friendly language and art, showing the slow build up of tiny, sparkling motes of energy, shown in little explosive stars of light against the black strata under the earth. The second half of the book explains how the rapid use of the fuels it took so long to build up damages the planet and atmosphere and causes changes, first small and later likely to be severe, to occur. Simple graphs show how the normal changes in the planet's atmosphere are disrupted and happening far more rapidly than ever before. The final pages blaze with the sun's light as it asks "Will you work together to use my ancient sunlight more slowly, to find other sources of energy, and invent ways to thin the blanket of CO2? The choice is yours."

Three pages of extensive notes expound on the concepts introduced, offering more information to parents and children who want to learn more. Some of the other reviews I looked at criticized the book for not offering "things kids can do" and normally I would like to see that as an option, to keep titles like this from being too scary and depressing for their readers, but in this case I don't think that's needed. First of all, I would agree with Paul Fleischman in his latest title for teens, Eyes Wide Open that making it sound like recycling will save the earth is too simplistic, even for kids (seriously, one book I read suggested kids write on both side of the paper to save the earth. Uh, really?). Secondly, this title has a matter-of-fact, scientific tone that informs without being frightening or overly dramatic. This would be a good book to start with to teach kids the scientific concepts behind why we recycle, walk or bike when possible, use public transportation (if the option is available), conserve water, keep the heat or a/c off when possible, or whatever other environmental measures are right for your family.

Verdict: This is the best explanation of fossil fuels for young listeners and readers that I've seen - it even made sense to me! The text is clear and interesting and the inspired illustrations richly complement the text. A definite must-have for your collection.

ISBN: 9780545577854; Published 2014 by Blue Sky Press; Borrowed from another library in my consortium; Added to the picture books/neighborhoods backlist for future ordering.
  JeanLittleLibrary | Feb 15, 2015 |
This book personifies the Sun as the narrator of earth's history. The Sun explains that humans have recently used fossil fuels for energy. In carelessly burning away these resources, releasing the buried sunlight in these ancient plant materials, humans have wrecked irreparable damage on the earth's atmosphere. In very simple yet precise language, and in a large font, the words appear against a lavishly illustrated backdrop. Each page has very colorful, fauvish/symbolic imagery that describes the bio-chemical life cycle. One of the reasons I think my students (struggling middle/high school readers) chose to read this book, out of the ones I had brought them to read, was because of the large illustrations and large printed text.

Symbolic imagery includes depictions of fossil fuels pierced by solar rays. One of the purposes of having the Sun tell this story is to present the accumulation of buried fossil fuels as a natural imbalance of photosynthesis and respiration. Humans are not included as more special than the other animal species on the planet that have always aided in respiration. Yet humans have always been the ones to exploit fossil fuels for energy since the dawn of civilization.

Bang & Chisholm offer many solutions at the end of the book for students looking for alternative and renewable energy sources. There is no suggestion that we must head down a path of ultimate destruction. The decision is ours to make, and the authors clearly give their readers a sense of responsibility in the matter. We could follow a path of destruction leading to Armageddon or we could use solar panels and wind-turbines for energy, travel everywhere using bicycles and electric cars, and recycle our waste products.

The author's objectivity on the matter of global warming might have been criticized for bias a few decades ago--I still remember when books like this were criticized for scant proof of such claims when I was in grade school in the 1990s. Nowadays, however, hardly anyone contests the mounting evidence that the burning of fossil fuels is responsible for many of the negative consequences we see from in the exponential rise of carbon in the atmosphere. Penny Chisholm is also well qualified to write scientifically on this subject, having taught Ecology at MIT for thirty-eight years. ( )
  mpresti | Feb 14, 2015 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0545577853, Hardcover)

Acclaimed Caldecott Artist Molly Bang teams up with award-winning M.I.T. professor Penny Chisholm to present the fascinating, timely story of fossil fuels.

What are fossil fuels, and how did they come to exist? This engaging, stunning book explains how coal, oil, and gas are really "buried sunlight," trapped beneath the surface of our planet for millions and millions of years.

Now, in a very short time, we are digging them up and burning them, changing the carbon balance of our planet's air and water. What does this mean, and what should we do about it?

Using simple language and breathtaking paintings, Bang and Chisholm present a clear, concise explanation of the fossil-fuel energy cycle that began with the sun and now runs most of our transportation and energy use in our world.

Readers will be mesmerized by this engaging fourth book in the award-winning Sunlight Series by Bang and Chisholm.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:10:04 -0400)

"It's time to learn about the role of carbon and fossil fuels on planet Earth! As much as our news is packed with articles about the importance of fossil fuels to the world economy and the global warming caused by increased carbon emissions, few people understand what is happening. Now Bang and Chisholm present a clear, concise explanation of the fossil-fuel energy cycle that began with the sun and now runs most of the manufacturing, transportation, and energy use in our world. Here is a stunning, simple book that will educate readers about how fossil fuels are really buried sunlight--energy caught from the sun by plants that were later trapped deep underground for millions of years. Now that this plant matter has been transformed into fuel, humans have been digging it up, changing the fragile dynamic that fulfills the global needs of all living things. In this fourth book of the award-winning "Sunlight Series," Bang and Chisholm share yet another example of the intricate connection between the sun and life itself. Using a narrative approach and gorgeous paintings, this very important story will engage readers and provide educators with a highly effective teaching tool. A wonderful addition to any library!"--… (more)

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