Read Aloud Thursday: Butterflies

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This gentle book by Antoine O Flatharta tells the story of a tortoise named Hurry who lives in Wichita Falls, Texas. One day his normal life in his garden is interrupted by the arrival of a monarch butterfly on her way to Mexico. The monarch feels the urge to travel, to see the world, to see what beautiful things are out there, to get away from the cold. Hurry is content to sit and sleep in his garden and wait for the warmth.  It’s a sweet story about two different personalities but also a great introduction to the migration of monarchs (and other animals).

The team of Dianna Hutts Aston and Sylvia Long (who also did An Egg is Quiet and A Seed is Sleepy) have produced another absolutely gorgeous non-fiction book that is as beautiful to look at as it is packed full of fascinating facts about butterflies.

Photographer Kjell Sandved arranges photographs of butterflies with images of letters on their wings in this now iconic book. I’m not always a fan of gimmicky books or alphabet books but this one is really cool. The right side of the page shows a close up detail of the area of the wing with the letter (usually magnified greatly) and the left side shows a photo of the whole butterfly with some rhyming text. The text was nothing particularly special and although the end of the book does include some information about the butterflies pictured, this one is all about the photographs and the gee whiz factor. It’s also nice for seeing up close the tiny scales on a butterfly’s wing.

Margarita Engle tells the story of Maria Sibylla Merian in this picture book biography. Merian was a Dutch woman in the late 1600’s who had a fascination with insects and the natural world even as a young girl. She went on as an adult to study insects, even traveling to Surinam at the age of 50. She published several books with detailed sketches of insects and plants and was one of the first to disprove the notion that insects came from spontaneous generation from rotting mud (a widely held belief in the Middle Ages).

I thought the text in this book was a little oversimplified and bland. There are also a few inaccuracies, for example the caterpillars are depicted as spinning cocoons. The ilustrations and text also imply that Merian did most of her work as a young girl. I appreciate wanting to appeal to a juvenile audience, however I thought it would have been better to make it clear that her work spanned her life. (Much as Me….Jane! told the story of Jane Goodall’s life and not just her childhood.)  However, the illustrations by Julie Paschkis are lush and ornate and Merian’s life itself is fascinating. I had never heard of her and I was really intrigued by her story.

Other Butterfly Books:
Velma Gratch and the Way Cool Butterfly by Alan Madison and Kevin Hawkes
Link to my review

Are You a Butterfly? by Judy Allen
One in a fantastic series putting kids in the position of what it would be like to be different insects.

Waiting for Wings by Lois Ehlert
A classic by one of the masters of the picture book.

Butterflies by Seymour Simon
A more in depth nonfiction book for older kids or true butterfly lovers by one of my go-to juvenile nonfiction writers.  Complete with photography.

We’re waiting for our own wings these days. We have nine Painted Lady caterpillars  from Insect Lore. All but one have formed chrysalises and soon we hope to see some butterflies emerge. It’s a really miraculous process to have going on in our dining room.

Be sure to stop by Hope is the Word for more Read Aloud Thursday.