Review: Handle with Care by Loree Griffin Burns

handle with care

Handle with Care: An Unusual Butterfly Journey by Loree Griffin Burns, illustrated by Ellen Harasimowicz

When I started this book, I expected a beautiful book about the life cycle of butterflies, but then discovered this was so much more!  In Costa Rica there is a farm that raises butterflies.  The book begins by showing what a container received in the mail that is full of butterfly pupae looks like.  The life cycle of butterflies is explained as is the pupa stage in particular.  Then we head to Costa Rica and the farm itself and here is where the book turns into an amazing tour of sustainable butterfly farming.  Readers get to see inside the greenhouses where the butterflies live and lay their eggs.  The roles of the farmers are shown in detail as is the beauty of the natural world around the farm.  Food for the butterflies, their transformation from egg to caterpillar to pupa, and the harvesting process are all detailed out for the reader.  This book takes a familiar yet captivating transformation and turns it into a trip to Costa Rica and back again.

Burns text is very engaging.  She describes the processes in detail but also throws in words that show how she too is excited by what is happening.  Cabinets are described as “crawling with caterpillars” and the pupae are “sturdy and tightly sealed…ingenious packages ready to travel.”  Her own delight at what is being described is evident and makes for very pleasurable reading.

The photography by Harasimowicz is simply beautiful.  All of her work is not only clear and crisp but also demonstrates the various steps in the process.  She uses different perspectives and different levels of distance to create a dynamic feel throughout the book. 

A wonderful and lovely surprise of a butterfly nonfiction book, this one is a superb pick for butterfly fans and library collections.  Appropriate for ages 7-10.

Reviewed from digital galley received from Netgalley and Millbrook Press.