Monday, March 7, 2011

Nonfiction Monday: Why Do Elephants Need the Sun?

Why Do Elephants Need the Sun?
written and illustrated by Robert E. Wells
(Albert Whitman and Company) 2010
Source: Mebane Public Library

Check out Nonfiction Monday at Picture Book of the Day

Imagine a 400 pound salad. I would need a lot of blue cheese dressing and giant croutons. Fortunately elephants don't need this. What they do need in order to receive their daily diet of plants is the sun. Sunlight absorbed by chlorophyll changes water and carbon dioxide into glucose which feeds plants. You know what goes with a 400 pound salad? A 50 gallon glass of water. Once again, sunlight helps provide this by warming the air and setting in motion a process that creates water for plants and animals. So how does the sun generate energy to do all of this? Gravity. As author Robert E. Wells explains, "Gravity pushes on the sun's surface and compresses the hydrogen gas inside, causing the hydrogen atoms to heat up." This creates nuclear fusion which produces large amounts of heat and light.

Why Do Elephants Need the Sun? tackles three big time science topics (photosynthesis, the water cycle, and gravity) and explains how each work in the simplest of terms. In addition, there is extra information about solar eclipses, the corona, solar and wind energy, and 10 cool sun facts in the back matter. The humorous and informative illustrations will further engage young scientists. This would be a great book for introducing graphic organizers like a flow chart which show the steps of a process. Needless to say, it would also be good for teaching about nature's cycles as well.

Click on this link for a teacher's guide to Robert E. Wells's science books.


  1. What a way to make the big picture processes relevant and interesting. Cool!

  2. It definitely sounds like an interesting concept, but I'd have to read it to see how it all fits together! I'll keep an eye out for this one.

  3. Thank you for visiting, Roberta and Lisa!