Some books simply light up your world, and a new hauntingly beautiful picture book called Glow: the Wild Wonders of Bioluminescence, by Jenifer N. R. Smith, is definitely one of the books.

Glow shines a light on the sparkly world of bioluminescence. It first identifies those insects, fish, animals, and other living creatures that glow in the dark as a way to communicate, attract a mate, or even defend themselves. This glow or emission of light is said to be caused by a chemical reaction, and is also used as a way to camouflage and to lure prey.

This stunning book is both visually pleasing and satisfyingly educational. Young oceanographers learn all sorts of things, like the different “levels” of bioluminescent light (sunlight zone, twilight zone, midnight zone), and the different types of light (bioluminscence versus phosphorescence). Those who prefer to abide above the water learn about land-dwelling biofluorescent animals, like the southern flying squirrel, the polka-dot tree frog, and even the common wombat. There is another study on the anatomy of bioluminescence, and how various creatures have evolved to emit light. There is even a study on harnessing the bioluminescent glow to make it beneficial for humans in various ways. And there is even a recipe activity in the book in which children are given a list of ingredients needed to “put on a light show.”

This book is a real gem… and it glows in the dark! It’s a picture book, reference book, and book of knowledge that you won’t be able to put down. The prose seems perfect for upper elementary students, especially since the font is much smaller than that used in the typical picture book. The book itself is a giant oversized creation, which is perfect for 3rd grade through 6th grade hands. The pages are done up in a glossy finish, which adds a bit of sparkle to the illustrations of various animals, insects, bacteria and other living things that glow in the dark. In addition to these, there are other definite perks, like a “Timeline of Bioluminescence” that traces the beginning of these glowing creatures, a spectacular colored map that shows where theses creatures can be found, and a glossary of important words.

Use this book in your science, earth science, or environmental classes. It can also be used as superior supplemental reading for young nature lovers, and it can even double as art inspiration in an elementary art class. Enjoy!

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