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The Picture Book Buzz

The Reason For The Seasons - Perfect Picture Book Friday #PPBF

Science can be so fun. Especially when presented in an engaging manner. The science classes I remember best as a kid involved excited teachers, and interestingly - extra credit art. The ones presented in monotones, with dull class books (looking at you chemistry), held little interest and even less retention.

I loved watching the experiments and inventions that my daughter and her classmates created in her elementary and middle school science classes. The school's dedication to hands-on learning developed their confidence and excitement; their ability and freedom to make hypotheses and try to prove them. Although, like true scientists, things didn't always work. But the kids proved what didn't work and why. And their trials and persistence often resulted in inventions and discoveries that did work. Each time they started with "what do we know" and "why or how do we know it."

This week's #PPBF pick, involves a curious and persistent scientist, determined to prove why we have seasons. As she investigates this phenomena, she tackles the veracity of commonly held beliefs.

The Reason for the Seasons

Author/Illustrator: Ellie Peterson

Publisher: Boyds Mills Press (2020)

Ages: 6-9



Seasons, science, and humor.


We all know there are four seasons in a year. But HOW do we know? Join intrepid young scientist-adventurer Joulia Copernicus on a journey around the world as she explains with humor and wit how we know what causes the seasons. Winter, Spring, Summer, Fall -- we all have a favorite season. But what makes the seasons happen in the first place? Ellie Peterson's clear, concise language and bold, kid-friendly illustrations bring science to life through narrator Joulia Copernicus, a strong and adventurous kid scientist. Kids will laugh while learning at the same time about the science behind the changing of the seasons throughout the year.

Opening Lines:

The seasons . . . .

I'll bet you know all about them . . .

How many there are, what they're called, when they occur . . .

You might even have a favorite!

But do you know what causes the seasons in the first place?

What I liked about this book:

The first-person narrative, oversized book format, and bright, bold illustrations of this picture book really grab the reader's attention. Along with the opening question - "do you know what causes the seasons in the first place?" I imagine kids will happily pipe in with their ideas.

© Ellie Peterson, 2020.

Following the scientific process, the main character, child scientist extraordinaire - Joulia Copernicus - evaluates commonly held assumptions. First, that the earth is closer to the sun in the summer and farther away in the winter. With a touch of humor, she disproves this because the northern and southern hemispheres don't have the same weather at the same time.

© Ellie Peterson, 2020.

Second, that seasons are caused by the earth's rotation. Afterall, it's light in the summer and dark in the winter, right?. Joulia disproves this notion since, if it were true, we'd have all four seasons in a single day. And even though the weather can be a bit mercurial, and perhaps seem as if we've experienced all four seasons in a day, this is not actually the case, just some screwy weather.

© Ellie Peterson, 2020.

Finally, Joulia examines the earth's tilt. Using stage lighting, shadow lengths throughout the year, and the earth's orbit she demonstrates how the earth's 23.5-degree tilt causes the seasons. As well as their variance between the hemispheres.

Just as a real scientist questions assumptions, Joulia gets to the bottom of the question of the seasons in an enjoyable and educational way. Ellie Peterson, a middle school science teacher, imbues Joulia with a scientist's code to always question assumptions before determining a conclusion. The text, while loaded with information, when married with the lively illustrations and personified planets, makes the book fun for elementary students. This will be an excellent book for exploring seasons, as well as other space science facts.


- can you think of anything else that people made wrong assumptions about? Why do you think they made these assumptions?

- try the experiment at the end of the book;

- find a globe, or look at one online, and notice how the earth is tilted on its axis. Now, shine a flashlight as your partner moves around you in a circle. Notice where the light shines on the globe; or

- Make your own paper model of earth. Examine how the sun's light shines on different parts of the earth as it rotates around the sun.

If you missed the interview of Ellie Peterson on Monday, find it (here).

This post is part of a series by authors and KidLit bloggers called Perfect Picture Book Fridays. For more picture book suggestions see Susanna Leonard Hill's Perfect Picture Books.

If you are in the area, look at this doozy of a triple book launch:

Combined Picture Book Launch: Ellie Peterson, Anait Semirdzhyan, and Polina Gortman

SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 22, 2020 2:00 PM 3:00 PM

Brick & Mortar Books

7430 164th Ave NE suite B105

Redmond, WA 98052

Picture book launch with Ellie Peterson (author and illustrator of The Reason for the Seasons), Anait Semirdzhyan (illustrator of The Arabic Quilt: An Immigrant Story), and Polina Gortman (illustrator of Randall and Randall).

Maria Marshall

 Photograph © A. Marshall

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