Friday, October 15, 2021

Nature is Always Changing

Night Becomes Day: Changes in Nature 
by Cynthia Argentine 
32 pages; ages 5-8 
Millbrook Press, 2021

theme: change, nature

Night becomes day / Flower becomes fruit. Nature is always at work, transforming.

Some changes are small. Some are big, like the creation of a canyon from years of river erosion. Some changes take place quickly, while others take weeks, months, or years. Some changes bring about a burst of color; other changes happen deep within the earth, but no matter where they happen or how long they take, they transform our environment.

What I like about this book: I like how Cynthia gently invites readers to think about change, and leads them to notice the changes that are taking place in the world around them. I like how she compares and contrasts change, using opposites and plenty of verbs. Colorful photos highlight the beauty and transformative power of the changes she writes about. And There Is Back Matter! Curious naturalists of all ages can dive deeper into the beaches and canyons, deserts and forests, and even snowflakes that Cynthia introduces in the text.

Cynthia was kind enough to answer One Question about her book:

Me: This book is about how things in nature are transformed over time. Can you tell us how your book transformed over time, from initial draft to final copy?

Cynthia: Right from the beginning, I structured the book around six pairs of opposite changes—small/big, quick/slow, hot/cold, and so on—choosing examples for each pair from the same branch of science. I used a beach as my first example of change, since beaches were a favorite place for me as a child, and a bit magical. I wanted to end the book with something else that seems magical, so I chose the imagery of a delicate, starry snowflake drifting down. Over time, the book transformed and half of the pairs of opposites changed! My editor at Millbrook Press, Carol Hinz, suggested I use “science-y” terms for all the pairs. This would make them more consistent and allow tighter curricular connections. My original “familiar/mysterious” became “above/below,” while still describing the same transformations—clouds and caves. 

The story’s opening also changed. Originally, I had: “Every morning, we wake to a world of change, where nature is the hidden transformer.” As I experimented with different ways into the story, I latched onto the cyclical quality of change. I thought of the rhythm of day and night, and of the life cycles of common plants. I liked that I could describe both of those with very few words: “Night becomes day. Flower becomes fruit. Nature is always at work, transforming.” Once I had that opening, I knew I wanted to reverse the order to close the book, mimicking the cycles themselves. The book ends as fruit becomes flower, and day becomes night. And I nodded to my original lead in my final line: “What wonders will tomorrow bring?”

Beyond the Books:
As we head toward winter (here in the northern hemisphere) there are many changes in nature surrounding us. This week, take time to notice some of those changes. What do you notice about:
  • plants growing in your neighborhood
  • clouds and weather
  • rocks, sidewalks, and roads
  • places where water collects
  • raindrops and snowflakes
  • the kinds of birds and insects you see
Check out Cynthia’s interview with Susanna Leonard Hill to learn more about how she wrote this book. Here’s the link.

Cynthia is a member of #STEAMTeam2021. 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. Thanks for posting this. Interesting to see how this book evolved. I'm floundering about trying to restructure and re-vision a NFPB for an R&R, and this gave me some ideas. Thank you!

    1. Hi Jilanne! I'm so glad you got some ideas from this post!

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  3. Loved reading about the process here. Sounds like a great STEM book.

  4. What a great book for kids who love nature and for the classroom. I'd really enjoy reading this book, because change is so important to our growth -- otherwise everything would be stagnant. Enjoyed learning about how Cynthia's book evolved! Adding it to my TBR list.

    1. Exactly, Patricia! Change is happening not just in our own lives but all around us. How cool is that!

  5. So glad you featured this one. It has truly stunning photographs! Fun activity, too.