Stars Beneath Your Bed: The Surprising Story of Dust
by April Pulley Sayre
Illustrated by Ann Jonas
Topics: dust, earth science, history
Stars Beneath Your Bed takes the potentially mundane subject of dust and cleverly connects it to the color of sunrise and sunsets, King Tut, the dinosaurs, the solar system, butterfly wings, and rolling zebras, to name just a few. The narrative is written in simple free verse:
Old dust stays around.
Dust that made King Tut sneeze is still on Earth.
It might be on your floor.
That dusty film on your computer screen
might have muddied a dinosaur.
Sayre has done an excellent job of choosing informative dust examples that will strongly appeal to children and combine the familiar with the dramatic, "the smoke of burning toast,/ ash from an erupting volcano", a dog shaking off dirt and meerkats digging in the savanna. The brief text is boldly illustrated with double-spread watercolors that are full of (dusty) action. The vibrant colors will draw children in and the familiar and exotic elements provide plenty for children to comment on. Of course, the title dust example, of stars or bits of Mars or comets making up the dust under the bed, is perhaps the most appealing and visually dazzling! The book follows the timeline of a day, starting with sunrise and ending with sunset, the sun is present in each double-spread and moves across the sky, providing a nice visual unity to the geographically varied landscapes.
The concept of dust scattering light is gently touched on in the free verse narrative and there's a two page detailed explanation of Dust and Sunsets for older children (and adults) at the end of the book. An inspired introduction to earth sciences for the very young, this wonderful book will trigger a whole new series of connections between a child's daily life and the world and universe around us.
April Pulley Sayre has written over 50 children's books about science and nature including Dig, Wait, Listen: A Desert Toad's Tale, an Outstanding Science Trade Book for Children and Our Amazing Continent books.
Ann Jonas has written and illustrated children's books including Color Dance and Round Trip, an ALA Notable Book and New York Times Best Illustrated Book.