May 27, 2022

Sun in My Tummy

Written by Laura Alary
Illustrated by Andrea Blinick
Pajama Press
32 pp.
Ages 5-8
April 2022
What might you see in a bowl of oatmeal? Sure, there will be the cereal and the milk and perhaps, as in this child's bowl, some lovely blueberries. But, if you look a little closer, you'll see the seeds that grew, the bushes that caught the sun's energy, and a cow "munching sweet green grass, that grew in soil, watered by rain, that came from clouds, formed by oceans, warmed by the sun." There's a lot of sunshine and goodness in that bowl of oatmeal and it all ends up in this child's tummy.
From Sun in My Tummy by Laura Alary, illus. by Andrea Blinick
Just as she was snug in her bed, a child thinks about oat grains that grew deep in the earth to produce the oats that are basis for the oatmeal her mother is making for their breakfast. With the sun, both she and the grains awoke, thirsty and hungry.
From Sun in My Tummy by Laura Alary, illus. by Andrea Blinick
What follows is a look at how the oats grew with the sun and the rain. And those lovely blueberries? The magic that we know of as photosynthesis happened in order to produce the plant that would produce the berries.
The leaves of that blueberry bush 
caught the sun energy and used it 
to break apart gases in the air.
Then they put the pieces back together
to make something new: sugar.
Food from thin air!
Laura Alary then speaks to the pollination and life cycles and with each cereal ingredient she helps children connect the natural world with the deliciousness in their food. Too many children and adults have a disconnect between what they eat and where it came from. They either don't know about milk cows and grains and fruit and how they are raised or cultivated or harvested or cannot see the connection between farms and how the food gets into the stores from which we often buy. By associating the sun of our environment with the warmth in our belly from hearty food, Laura Alary relates science concepts like photosynthesis, energy and life cycles with the familiar events like waking in the morning, having breakfast, and growing. Connecting the familiar with the unfamiliar is always an important means to forge learning.
From Sun in My Tummy by Laura Alary, illus. by Andrea Blinick
Like Laura Alary whose earlier picture book, What Grew in Larry's Garden (2020), focused on the outdoors, Andrea Blinick takes her artwork into the natural world to shine. As it did in Outside, You Notice (2021), Andrea Blinick's illustrations bring the sunshine and the rain and the animals and plants to flourish with energy. Whether that energy is solar or metabolic or spiritual, it carries the importance of sustaining life in its many forms and Andrea Blinick's art which is a combination of gouache, coloured pencil, collage and chalk pastel gives the text of that message the brightness and textures of that life and energy.
Perfect for STEM lessons about plants and life cycles, Sun in My Tummy will brighten any classroom or library and help young children understand how the sun in their tummies, whether oatmeal or another cereal, got there.

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