Friday, April 23, 2021

Chilling Out on Hot Summer Days

 SummerTime Sleepers 
by Melissa Stewart; illus. by Sarah Brannen 
40 pages; ages 6-9
Charlesbridge, 2021

theme: animals, adaptations, summer

Yawn, stretch, blink!
As warm weather spreads across the land, hibernating animals spring to life.

But not these animals! When it gets hot, they look for cool spots to sleep away the summer. It’s like hibernation, but it’s called estivation. Spread by spread, Melissa Stewart and Sarah Brannen show how different animals – from insects to herps* to fish to mammals – snuggle up for a cool summer nap.
(*"herp" is a collective term for amphibians and reptiles.)

What I like about this book: I love the compare/contrast structure: some animals slumber together, others alone. Some go high, others burrow underground. I also like the diversity, across different classes of animals. Of course, I love that there are ladybugs and butterflies, but I’m also a big fan of spotted turtles and – until now – I did not know they estivated. I love Sarah Brannen’s artwork, and how she adds the “nature field sketches” to the spreads. She brings these animals to life – er, to sleep! And of course there is back matter. Melissa includes more details about the personal lives of each animal, plus an explanation about how estivation and hibernation are similar.

Melissa edited Nonfiction Writers Dig Deep, and throughout that book she emphasized the connections nonfiction writers make with their topics. So I only had One Question for her:

me: What was the emotional connection that supplied the creative spark to bring Summertime Sleepers to life? 

this is Emile!
: Summertime Sleepers: Animals that Estivate was 10 years in the making, and if it weren’t for the enthusiasm of my nephew, Emile, I might have given up long ago. When I began writing the book, Emile had a beloved pet leopard gecko. When I told him that, in the wild, leopard geckos estivate, he was fascinated. He couldn’t wait to see his favorite animal featured in a book. Back then, neither of us realized how long it would take. For all those years, he kept me personally invested.

Beyond the Books:

Find out more about estivation. Here's an article about animals that estivate, and here's another one.

Learn more about an animal that snoozes away the hottest parts of summer – and where they shelter. If you live in the northeast, check out mourning cloak butterflies and spotted turtles. If you live in the arid part of the US check out yellow-bellied marmots, California tiger salamanders, and ladybugs.

Build your own summertime snoozing shelter for really hot days. Would it be a burrow? a lean-to shaded by a tree? Or maybe a sunflower house that you grow – here’s how.

Melissa is a member of #STEAMTeam2021. She’s an award-winning author with more than 180 books to her credit. You can find out more about her at her website

Today we're joining Perfect Picture Book Friday, an event where bloggers share great picture books at Susanna Leonard Hill's website. Review copy provided by the publisher.


  1. This one is on my TBR list. Great review! And I'm so glad that Melissa persisted.

  2. I learned a new word today - estivation. I never gave thought to slumbering animals in the summer. Imagine many do so in the deserts. Fascinating book! Thanks for sharing!

  3. Estivation is a new word for me. Even spell checker thinks it's a new word! This looks like a terrific book. I ordered it from my library and can't wait to read it. Thanks for the post.

  4. What a great review Sue. I loved the tidbit from Melissa about her Nephew being her inspiration and motivation.