Perfect Picture Book Friday: When the Wind Stops

Author: Charlotte Zolotow
Illustrator: Stefano Vitale
Publication Info: HarperCollins Publishers, 1995 (third edition)
Intended audience: Ages 4 and up, though my three-year-old loved it
Themes/topics: nature, natural science, weather
Synopsis and opening line: “The bright yellow sun had shown all day, and now the day was coming to an end. The light in the sky changed from blue to pink to a strange dusky purple. The sun sank lower into the long glowing clouds. The little boy was sorry to see the day end.”
In Zolotow’s beautiful, lyrically written book, the boy’s mother explains that nothing comes to an end. When the day ends at his house, night begins and day breaks at another spot on the globe. Falling leaves signal not the end of autumn, but the beginning of new life, as the decaying leaves nourish the soil. Zolotow’s text is a poetic preschool introduction to the natural world and its cycles.
Resources: This book encompasses much of the natural world. To explain the Earth’s rotation, you need only a flashlight and a globe. Don’t have a globe? Try an orange instead. Show children where you live on the globe (or mark the spot with an x on the orange). Tell the children that the flashlight is the sun. When the sun shines directly on the x (or your city on the globe) it’s daytime there. Now rotate the globe or orange 180 degrees. Explain that now your home is in Earth’s shadow, and it’s nighttime. But see, the sun is shining somewhere else! You could also compost to explain how old leaves and dead plant matter create nutrients and new life. Boil water to show how water becomes water vapor, which creates clouds. Trap some water vapor in a bottle and let it cool. Now you’ve got rain.
Why I like this book: A busy two-year-old serendipitously handed me this book at the library when he saw me pulling books off the shelf. His choice couldn’t have been more perfect. At each sunrise and sunset my three-year-old asks, “Is the sun coming up or going down?” We talk about the Earth’s rotation and the fact that sunset means a new day is dawning somewhere else in the world.  This beautifully written book provides just enough information about nature and its cycles for preschoolers.
Every Friday bloggers review “Perfect Picture Books.” Find a complete list of book reviews organized by topic, genre and blogger at author Susanna Leonard Hill’s site.
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26 responses to “Perfect Picture Book Friday: When the Wind Stops

  1. This book sounds wonderful! I love Charlotte Zolotow but haven’t read this one. Sounds like it’s full of comforting answers to some of those things kids wonder about. Love the ideas for activities too! Thanks so much for sharing this one, Kirsten – a great addition to our list!

  2. I love the fact that it was a kid that handed you this book. I haven’t read this one of Zolotow’s either, but love the idea of sharing the natural cycles.

  3. I lie that this book teaches science at a child’s level. Perfect theme with the sun rising and setting and what happens in between. Really glad you chose this book to add to our list.
    Sounds very beautiful and lyrical.

  4. I love books that show how the day/night progresses around the world (one of my favorites is Nine O’Clock Lullaby). I’m grateful to that discerning two-year-old who slipped you this book. Methinks I see a future reference librarian!

  5. Another book that helps young children understand the world and nature…you scored a goal with this one, Kirsten!
    I love the activities you suggest…I’m all about simple and use what’s around the house…an orange and a flashlight…PRICELESS!

  6. This sounds wonderful. I love any book that shows youngsters nature in a fun and exciting way. I had no idea about this book. Thanks so much for sharing it. I can’t wait to read it.

    Sorry I am late making the rounds. I was finishing a short story I wrote about my son Christopher. I am subbing it to an anthology.

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