Hello, Little One: A Monarch Butterfly Story by Zeena M. Pliska, illustrated by Fiona Halliday (9781624149313)
Caterpillar’s entire world is filled with green after he leaves his egg. Then something orange arrives, soaring high above. Caterpillar calls out to the flying orange thing, but it doesn’t stop. Later, Orange lands nearby to sip nectar from a flower. Caterpillar is eating a leaf nearby. The two spend time together, Orange talking about how they used to feel as a caterpillar and Caterpillar longing to be more like Orange someday. Orange tells all sorts of stories of the things they have seen as they fly. Soon it is time for Caterpillar to form their chrysalis. Orange explains that they won’t be here when Caterpillar emerges. Once caterpillar emerges, they too are a monarch butterfly and are ready to inspire another tiny caterpillar on their journey.
Pliska writes with a tenderness in this picture book. Her words look at the wonder of a new world filled with green leaves and the promise of eventual flight. She creates a natural connection between the two characters who clearly enjoy their shared company. The beauty of the change from caterpillar to butterfly plays out against the sadness of Orange not being there. These quiet and aching moments create quite a special book.
The illustrations in this book are done in traditional and digital mixed media. The colors are so vivid and deep. They are large enough to work well with a group, focusing on the bright colors of the caterpillar and butterfly and also the greens and blues of their surroundings.
A marvelous book about butterflies, their life cycle and the circle of life. Appropriate for ages 4-6.
Reviewed from copy provided by Page Street Kids.
The Very Impatient Caterpillar by Ross Burach (9781338289411)
When it’s time for the caterpillars to make their cocoons and metamorphosize, one caterpillar isn’t clear what is actually going on. To make matters worse, he’s also quite impatient about the entire process. Once he starts his metamorphosis, he just can’t wait the entire time and pops out before he has changed at all. He rebuilds his cocoon, but continues to complain the entire time and ask whether it’s time to emerge yet. Happily, the second time, he does become a butterfly but his impatience isn’t cured quite yet.
Burach writes this picture book entirely in dialogue, showing both the impatience of the main character and the exasperation of those around him. Thanks to a high level of humor in the book, the main character is more funny than troublesome. Children will see their own impatience in him. I also deeply appreciated that he didn’t change at all by the end of the book, even after changing into a butterfly. The art is big and bold, filled with bright colors and lots of energy. It is ideal to share with a group.
A great mix of humor and STEM. Appropriate for ages 2-4.
Reviewed from library copy.
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.
Adios Oscar!: a butterfly fable by Peter Elwell
Oscar is a caterpillar with big plans to turn into a butterfly and head to Mexico. His caterpillar friends don’t believe that they will ever turn into butterflies, but Edna the bookworm takes him to a library for bugs where he learns about butterflies and caterpillars. Oscar also learns that they speak Spanish in Mexico, so he sets out to learn the language. Soon Oscar is ready to build his cocoon and transform. He has dreams of monarch butterflies but when he emerges he finds that he is a moth instead! He is expected to fly around lightbulbs and eat socks, not fly to Mexico. What is a small gray moth supposed to do with his bright sunny Mexico dreams?
This book is a great blend of factual information on butterflies and caterpillars and a story about one’s dreams and reality. Elwell has married the two divergent subjects into a nicely cohesive book. His illustrations are a large part of the book’s success, offering a silly, fresh feel. As a reader, I was pleasantly surprised by the twist of Oscar being a moth and the choice that he faces about expectations for moths and his own dreams.
Appropriate for ages 3-6, this book is a great addition to a butterfly unit or story time and will offer a discussion opportunity about everyone’s dreams.