Book Trailer Premiere: Summertime Sleepers: Animals that Estivate by Melissa Stewart and Sarah S. Brannen

Hello, Melissa Stewart! Hello, Sarah S. Brannen! Thank you for stopping by to celebrate Summertime Sleepers: Animals that Estivate’s book trailer. Melissa, what’s one thing you want to share about the book before everyone watches the book trailer?

Melissa Stewart: Thanks so much for hosting our book trailer premiere, Mr. Schu! I guess I should start off by defining the word estivate, which is new to most people. Estivation is the summertime counterpart of hibernation. It’s used to describe animals that rest or sleep when the weather’s warm because their bodies can’t function or their food is in short supply.

Sarah and I are so excited to see this book finally enter the world. Summertime Sleepers 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 Summertime Sleepers, 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.

Sarah, please tell us about the materials you used to create the art.

Sarah S. Brannen: Thanks for asking, Mr. Schu! The art for Summertime Sleepers was done in watercolor with some india ink on the “sketchbook pages.” Since most of the animals in the book are shown sleeping, I wanted to include some images of them awake and active, so I decided to include an image that looked like it was from a nature study sketchbook. I actually did the art for the pages separately, and I did the shadows separately too. Then the art director put everything together.

Melissa, imagine you’re booktalking Summertime Sleepers: Animals that Estivate to 200 second graders.

Melissa Stewart: I’d let them know that there’s something surprising that animals as different as land snails, hedgehogs, and pixie frogs all have in common. On the hottest days of the year, these animal estivators nap, doze, relax and repose. They sleep for days or weeks at a time to beat the heat.

And I’d tell librarians that since their collection undoubtedly contains five, six, seven books about hibernation, they need at least one book about estivation. This is an animal behavior that everyone should know about.

Sarah's sketchbooks. 

Sarah, please finish the following sentence starters:

I think Summertime Sleepers: Animals that Estivate is a wonderful introduction to a very new concept. Kids will be familiar with hibernation, but almost no one has ever heard of estivation, yet. And it’s a nice, cozy book to read at bedtime, with lots of pictures of snoozing animals.

Sketchbooks – I love sketchbooks! I have dozens. Some are simple ones, some are expensive handmade books from Italy. I got my first one in eighth grade, and I still draw in them all the time, particularly when I’m traveling and also when I’m jotting down ideas for picture books of my own. It’s fun to take an old one out and leaf through it – it takes me right back to where and when I did the sketches.

I recommend sketchbooks for kids of all ages. They’re little and easy to carry with you, and drawing something seals it in your memory the way taking a photo simply can’t. You don’t have to buy an expensive one – the sketchbook shown in Summertime Sleepers is meant to be just a few sheets of plain paper, folded in half and sewn together at the spine. That would work well for anyone!

Melissa, please finish the following sentence starters:

Sarah S. Brannen’s illustrations are stunning—as always! I feel so fortunate to have worked with Sarah on three books. Thanks to her input, our other collaborations—Feathers: Not Just for Flying and Seashells: More than a Home—also integrate the idea of observing and sketching as a way to understand and appreciate the natural world and all it has to offer.

The desert hedgehog is a truly adorable creature. I’m so glad Sarah decided highlight it on the cover of Summertime Sleepers: Animals that Estivate. One fun thing about this book is the incredible variety of animals it contains, from mourning cloak butterflies and Christmas Island red crabs to California tiger salamanders to mangrove killifish. The research for this book was truly fascinating.

Thank you, Melissa and Sarah! 

Look for Summertime Sleepers: Animals that Estivate on April 27, 2021. 

Charlesbridge's Description: 

Everyone knows about animals that hibernate in the winter. But it’s time to discover animals that sleep all summer long!

All science classrooms discuss animals that hibernate during winter months, but few know about animals that estivate—a prolonged sleep during hot or dry periods. Dual layers of text awaken readers to the reasons estivating animals become dormant—whether it’s because warm weather threatens food supply or to avoid increased body temperatures. From the ladybug to the salamander, from the lungfish to the desert hedgehog, twelve estivating animals and their habits—both when sleeping and awake—are explained through clear text and elegant watercolor illustrations that create a scrapbook feel.


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