Ocean Sunlight: How Tiny Plants Feed the Seas

Illustrated by Molly Bang

“Dive into the sea! Now flip over slowly, and look up. The water is shimmering with light – my light. I am your sun, your golden star. All ocean life depends on me; so does all life on land.”

In this second installment of The Sunlight Series, the sun once again serves as narrator, this time teaching readers about its important role in sustaining ocean life. The book starts by describing the crucial life process of photosynthesis carried out by microscopic plant-like organisms called phytoplankton. The glucose energy captured by the phytoplankton gets distributed throughout the ocean ecosystem by means of the food chain. As carbon dioxide is released, the sun works with the wind to build storms and currents that will push the molecules back up to the surface. The cycle then begins anew as the sun continues to provide life to generations of creatures to come. 

Ocean Sunlight depicts the interconnectedness of life, specifically in ocean ecosystems. Throughout, the book emphasizes the critical role of sunlight as a source of energy for marine creatures. Whether it be directly or indirectly, nearly all forms of life rely on photosynthesis. As the sun states, “My light-energy, first caught by phytoplankton, flows through the ocean’s chains of life, from the tiniest green plants to the biggest fish or whale.” Here, the book places a strong emphasis on the importance of food webs, describing how all creatures, no matter how big or small, have an important position in the web of life. The book uses short sentences and vibrant illustrations to convey its facts about energy and ocean life, but at the end, there are six additional pages presented in paragraph form, offering deeper insights into the topics covered. Though the book does not directly explore any specific threats to marine ecosystems, Ocean Sunlight can help readers develop a greater understanding and appreciation for underwater life and the way that it all naturally works together to maintain ecological balance.

©2024 Climate Lit (Alexandra Delacruz)


Publisher: The Blue Sky Press, 2012

Pages: 48

Lexile Score: 670L

ISBN: 978-0545273220

Audience: Ages 4-7, Ages 8-13

Format: Nonfiction, Picturebooks

Science Standards: 5-PS3-1, K-ESS3-1, K-PS3-1, MS-ESS2-4, MS-LS1-6, MS-LS1-7, MS-LS2-3

Topics: Carbon Cycle, Earth System, Ecological Balance, Food Chains, Food Webs, Interconnectedness, Marine Ecosystems, Oceans, Science, Web of Life