And it’s time for Perfect Picture Book Friday sponsored by Susanna Leonard Hill. For more perfect picture books, visit Susanna’s amazing perfect picture book page.
Written by Margarita Engle and Illustrated by Julie Paschkis
Henry Holt & Company 2010
Suitable for: ages 8-12
Themes: metamorphosis, science, insects, butterflies, history
Opening and Brief Synopsis: ” Each year, the sky fills with summer birds. Many people call them butterflies. Everyone believes that these insects come from the mud, as if by magic. I disagree. I am only thirteen years old, but I capture insects. I study them. I have to catch my insects in secret. Neighbors would accuse me of witchcraft if they knew…” Born in Frankfurt Germany in 1647, Maria Merian began painting and studying small insects from a young age. Her natural curiousity led her to discover the scientific process called metamorphosis. In Europe people believe that insects that changed form were evil, but Maria disagreed. Later in life Maria traveled to South America and published her books of paintings and scientific studies.
Links to resources: Nature Pavilion sells kits for raising butterflies. Each year our second grade students watch their caterpillars spin cocoons, and then they release the butterflies after they hatch.
Why I like this book: I am amazed that a thirteen year old girl was brave enough to defy the beliefs of her people in the 1600’s. She was lucky not to have been charged with witchcraft. That a young girl could see the beauty in the natural transformation of these creatures when adults could not fascinates me. I also like the picture book format of this non-fiction book. Maria tells the story in first person. The illustrations are also spectacular and beautifully detailed.