105 Ways to Give a Book

Monarch and Milkweed

Monarch and MilkweedIn a word, Lovely.

If you are looking for a book about caterpillars turning into butterflies, you want nonfiction but artistic and poetic, Monarch and Milkweed, by Helen Frost, is for you. Featuring beautiful illustrations by Leonid Gore, the wording takes this nonfiction title to a different level.
Monarch lights on Milkweed,
drums her feet on Milkweed’s flower,
and tastes home.
All the basic facts are here: Monarch finds mate, attaches egg to leaf, caterpillar breaks out of egg, caterpillar eats leaf and grows, caterpillar transforms into a chrysalis, and emerges a butterfly. But it’s usually not said like this:
Its feelers droop...
and one last time,
it sheds its skin —
it twists and turns, and pulls its body up, transforming
into a chrysalis. It hangs beneath the leaf,
a shining jewel,
jade green, specked with gold.
At the end is a summary of the migration and an expansion of the text — for instance the fact that each species of butterfly has one kind of plant on which the butterfly lays its eggs, like monarch and milkweed. The book also points out a monarch website for more information. Classroom teachers, librarians, and parents may want to pair this book with an even simpler version in a picture book, Arabella Miller’s Tiny Caterpillar, by Clare Jarrett, which features bright illustrations, rhyming text, friendly characters, and factual information at the end.

I’ve heard that the monarchs have been AWOL this year, and I have to admit that I haven’t seen them around. We have a Butterfly bush in our garden, but I’ve seen mostly Eastern Tiger Swallowtails (yes, I looked it up) and not even that many of them. First the bees disappear, then the butterflies. What’s next? Roaches?

Oh, actually that would be okay.

1 comment:

Lee Wind, M.Ed. said...

You know, another lyrical book about butterflies (I believe they're Monarch butterflies as well) is Bruce Coville's Picturebook "Prince of Butterflies" which is poetic and really, really beautiful. (it's illustrated by John Clapp.)

It has that Bruce Coville touch of the "Numinous" that's really powerful (he described Numinous as being a sense that there's a magical/spiritual element to the universe that's bigger than us and that we can just sense by having the fringe of it brush by our cheek...)