Beneath the Sun
How do the animals around us survive on the hottest days of the year? Journey to a field where an earthworm loops its long body into a ball underground, to a desert where a jackrabbit loses heat through its oversized ears, to a wetland where a siren salamander burrows into the mud to stay cool, and to a seashore where sea stars hide in the shade of a seaweed mat. Luminous watercolors and lyrical language introduce young readers to the strategies our animal neighbors use to beat the heat.
Take a look at Melissa’s Beneath the Sun pinterest board for more resources and teaching ideas.
Honors and Awards
Bill Martin, Jr. Picture Book Award Nominee
Charlotte Zolotow Award, Highly Commended
Children’s Book Council Featured Title
Cooperative Children’s Book Center Choices List
Cybils Award Finalist
National Science Teachers Association-Children’s Book Council Outstanding Science Trade Book
Behind the Book
“Because so many readers enjoyed my book Under the Snow, my editor suggested a companion title that describes some of the amazing ways common animals in North America habitats survive in summer.
“I knew there were great desert examples, but it was harder to find information about animals living in other habitats. I uncovered some great examples for animals living in fields and wetlands that dry up in summer, but forest animals can hide under the shade of trees and water cools animals living in ponds. During a trip to the beach, I realized I was standing in the fourth habitat for my book. The seashore can be a very harsh environment.”
Writing simply but informatively, Stewart takes readers through four different environments—a field, a desert, a wetland and a seashore—showing how some of the inhabitants of each cope during the hottest days of the year. Forging a connection with readers, the book begins by showing children in a suburban environment playing in the sprinkler and sipping lemonade. With a page turn, Stewart introduces the next environment, a field, and how some of its inhabitants—a woodchuck, an earthworm, a spittlebug and a caterpillar—cope with the heat. By including the children in the suburb, Stewart positions humans as simply one species of the many that inhabit the Earth—a notable and appropriate perspective. Bergum’s pleasing, realistic watercolor illustrations include front endpapers that show the sunrise and rear endpapers that mirror them with dusk. The suggestion that the story takes place within the time frame of one day encloses it within comfortable confines familiar to all readers—another element that connects children to the subject. The framing of illustrations within the double-page spreads gives readers a sense of spatiality within the environment depicted. A well-designed, well-written book that offers readers [a]n engaging peek into how various creatures cope with the hottest of days
—Kirkus Reviews
On the hottest day of the year, three kids put on sunscreen, sip lemonade, and run through their backyard sprinkler to cool off. But what do animals do in hot weather? Stewart and Bergum, who previously collaborated on When Rain Falls (2008) and Under the Snow (2009), tell and show what happens on a sweltering day in a field, in a desert, in a wetland, and at the seashore. From earthworm to fiddler crab, from horned lizard to herring gull, each animal deals with high temperatures in its own way. Finally, the sun sets and evening comes, bringing cooler temperatures for all. The second half of the book is unusual in that it includes the cooling strategies of creatures living in shallow water as well as those of land animals, insects, and birds living nearby. The short text tells just enough about each animal to make its story interesting, while the handsome watercolor paintings illustrate each species and its habitat effectively. A quiet, informative read-aloud choice for the dog days of summer.
Beneath the Sun is a stunning, illustrated children's nature book with sunny painted illustrations showing different animals as they find ways to adapt to the heat of the sun. Fiddler crabs, ospreys, painted salamanders, turkey vultures, ringtails, spittlebugs, and earthworms are just a few of the species featured who have special ways of adapting to the heat. Attractively presented and carefully written to appeal to children ages 4-8, Beneath the Sun shows miniature miracles of nature's heat survival defenses in exquisite detailed illustrations. Beginning and ending with human children, who adapt to the sun's heat by drinking fluids and running through sprinklers, Beneath the Sun encourages kids to examine everyday features of nature's creatures around them.
—Children's Bookwatch
Beneath the Sun is a creative approach to learning how animals adapt to their surroundings and survive during the hottest time of the year.
The Carroll News, Carroll County, VA
The book connects us to the animal world by beginning and ending with how humans cool off, and I think is a great segue into learning about other creatures methods of doing the same.
YA Books Central
The clearness and sweet simplicity of Stewart's text affords children with a down-to-earth introduction of how animals manage to adapt to their summer surroundings.
A Modest Mama's Musings for Little Readers
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.”
STEM Friday Blog
How creatures of various habitats utilize and cope with the heat of the sun–from children playing in a lawn sprinkler to salamanders burrowing into mud to a turkey vulture urinating on its legs–forms the narrative of this book. Detailed watercolors on triptych, diptych, and full-double-page spreads evocatively illustrate the creatures’ fascinating phenomena.
Horn Book Guide
Beneath the Sun
by Melissa Stewart
illus by Constance R. Bergum
Peachtree, 2014
for ages 4-8
Purchase this book at your local independent bookseller or
Under the Snow
ISBN 978-1-68263-159-1 (PB)
Purchase this book at your local independent bookseller or
You'll also enjoy:
Beneath the Sun
Under the Snow
When Rain Falls
Copyright 2001- Melissa Stewart. All rights reserved. All materials on this site may be copied for classroom or library use but may not be reprinted or resold for commercial purposes. This website is COPPA compliant. If you are a child under age 13 and wish to contact Melissa Stewart, please use the email address of a teacher, librarian, or parent with that adult’s permission. Webhost Privacy Policy.
Vivid Verbs Worksheet Using Vivid Verbs