The Art and Science of Children’s Lit

An author/illustrator named Molly Bang has perfected the art (and science) of children’s literature.

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The best children’s literature has often featured an ingenious blend of writing and illustration. Think “Goodnight Moon”…. “Where the Wild Things Are”…. “The Very Hungry Caterpillar.” The artwork is as memorable as the story line. Although my kids are both past the age of reading these types of books themselves, one of our most fun bedtime routines (alas, it happens more rarely each year) is gathering together on the bed to read one (or two, or three) of our favorites from when they were little.

Which is one of the reasons I was so excited when my dad recently introduced me to author/illustrator Molly Bang. He came across her latest work, “Living Sunlight,” through an association with writer Penny Chisholm. Dr. Chisholm is the Lee and Geraldine Martin Professor of Environmental Studies at MIT. Her life’s work is dedicated to marine plant biology, and the book is a brilliant introduction to photosynthesis to teach children about how humans and plants interact to create a living, breathing earth. It’s a terrific example of eco literature, a burgeoning field spearheaded by Fritjhof Capra’s Center for Ecoliteracy. And Molly’s drawings for the book are mesmerizing. The detail is exquisite and the colors are incredibly vivid. Her subjects are people, other animals, trees and oceans – all the inhabitants of this vast earth. I was familiar with her previous work, having relied upon “When Sophie Gets Angry” to help kids (including some who live in my house) learn anger coping skills. This new collaborative work is a wonderful synthesis of art and science. I commend the authors on making the subject of photosynthesis accessible and (gasp) fun. Here’s hoping that more children’s authors/illustrators will capitalize on the “green” lit trend and continue to create wonderful works like this one.

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