After the Sun Goes Down

From 1953 to 1973, Glenn Blough and Jeanne Bendick collaborated on 14 delightful nature books for children. Blough, an educator and leader in children’s science education, wrote these informative, but also delightful science books for young readers so that children would become more curious about the natural world and feel more connected to it. Jeanne Bendick, a famous author, illustrator, and artist illustrated these books, taking the engaging content and bringing it to life with appealing and easy to comprehend pictures that instruct as much as they entertain. We are thrilled that Purple House Press is reprinting some of these books and bringing them to life for a new generation of budding naturalists.

“Hardly anyone sees these animals. Hardly anyone knows they live in the Big Woods. Sometimes people who are awake at night hear the sounds they make. Sometimes the animal sounds wake up people who live near the Big Woods. But all night long, things happen in the Big Woods that hardly anyone knows about.” (p.5).

After the Sun Goes Down: The Story of Animals at Night was reprinted by Purple House Press in 2021. This fascinating story invites the reader into the mysterious and exciting story of the animals who only come out at night and the vibrant nightlife in the woods. The format and approach is comparable to Who Lives In This Meadow but it is even more exciting because it is set in that magical time after little ones have been sent to bed. What child doesn’t love the idea of staying up past bedtime to explore some magical and unknown world?

Like Who Lives In This Meadow Blough gives the children excellent science lessons while Bendick brings those to life with her delightful illustrations. 

“Come into the Big Woods after the sun goes down and you will be surprised.”

Like the Meadow book, Blough breaks the book down along taxonomical categories. 

  • The Night Whistlers
  • The Night Hunters
  • The Night Gliders
  • The Opossums
  • The Night Flutterers
  • The Night Lighters and Chirpers
  • The Frogs
  • The Night Builders

“The sound is too high for people to hear, but the bat hears it. That is how the bat uses its voice to help it fly. The high sound goes out from the bat and strikes things and bounces back like an echo. This helps the bat to know when it is too close to something that it might hit. If the sound comes back in a hurry, the bat is very close to something… but no one in the farmhouses hear the bat as it flutters through the trees and makes this high squeak.” (p. 28-29) 

In each section, Blough explains the lifestyle and habits of the animals mentioned. Bendick’s illustrations are a beautiful blend of technical and whimsical. As usual with Blough, the explanations are scientific, accurate, and yet written with respect for the intelligence, but also the perspective of a child reader. It is no easy feat to communicate such detail in such a respectful and lovely way. 

“But you can go past the pond a hundred times in the daytime and never see them. You can see their homes in the pond without half trying. Their homes are made of mud and branches of trees. They look like piles of brush out in the water. They are easy to see, but the animals are inside the homes all day long.” (p. 38).

Blough so beautifully teases the child’s imagination by telling them that what they want to know about what they cannot find during the hours that they are allowed to be awake. He invites them into a love of nature by making night time magical and a place worth dreaming about

“At night, if you are near the pond at just the right time, you may hear a tree crash to the ground. The animals cut down the trees and eat the bark. They cut down poplar and willow trees and some other kinds that they especially like. If you went closer to see what was happening, all of a sudden you might hear that loud SLAP on the water. You could hear it for half a mile. And then you would hear two or three of four splashes as the animals dived into the water. Then everything would be quiet.” (p. 39)

Finally, Blough and Bendick treat us to an invitation to go exploring and see all of these things for ourselves. 

“While these animals sleep other animals are awake hunting for food, for that is the way of animals that live in the Big Woods. And it is the way of animals that live near you. Listen and look and you will see.” (p. 46)

You can purchase this book directly from the publisher here or on Amazon here. You can learn more about this series at Biblioguides here.