Friday, May 9, 2014

Butterfly Packages ~ Handle with Care

Handle with Care: An Unusual Butterfly Journey
By Loree Griffin Burns; photos by Ellen Harasimowicz
32 pages; ages 5 – 10
Millbrook Press, 2014

“A mysterious package has arrived at the museum. It’s shiny and has traveled a long, long way. It’s sturdy. And it’s inside this silver box….” What could this mysterious package be?

Themes: animal, nature, nonfiction

It’s a pupa! And what’s a pupa, you ask? It’s the teenage stage of a moth or butterfly’s life – where they hang around the house and look like they’re doing nothing, but a lot is going on inside.

This particular pupa started life as an egg on a butterfly farm in Costa Rica.

What’s a butterfly farm? Well, that’s what this book is all about!

What I like love about this book: Aside from the gorgeous photos and excellent writing, I love the endpapers. The front endpapers are chrysalises; the back endpapers are the adult butterflies. Book-ended between them is the story about how farmers in Costa Rica raise butterflies for museums around the world. They make sure caterpillars have plenty of food, and they scout for predators that sneak in. When the caterpillars are ready to pupate, the farmers move them into special screened cabinets. I also like the way Loree Burns explains terminology in easy-to-understand language, and the wealth of information tucked into the back pages. 

Beyond the book: 

Summer is a great time to watch butterflies around your neighborhood. Look for butterfly eggs on and under leaves in your garden. Here’s a guide to some common butterfly eggs.

Follow a caterpillar. How fast does it move? How far does it travel in a minute? And what is it eating? Draw a picture of what it looks like: is it fuzzy? Smooth? Striped or spotted? Does it have horns that shoot out of its head or big eyespots on its butt? If you don’t have a caterpillar guide handy, you can use this online caterpillar identification tool.

Whose chrysalis is that? Chances are you won’t find a chrysalis, because caterpillars climb to a safe and hidden place to pupate. But I’ve found Baltimore Checkerspot chrysalises on onion leaves – when there are plenty of tall weeds to give it cover! Here’s a guide to chrysalises.

Go to Butterfly School. Want to learn more? Then check out Butterfly School. If you have a chance to visit a live butterfly zoo or greenhouse this summer, do it. And ask the curator if any of their butterflies come from Costa Rica. 

Drop by STEM Friday to see what other science books and resources bloggers are sharing.   Today's review is part of PPBF (perfect picture book Friday), an event in which bloggers share great picture books at Susanna Leonard Hill's site. She keeps an ever-growing list of Perfect Picture Books.
  On Monday we'll flutter over to join the Nonfiction Monday round-up, where you'll find all kinds of great nonfiction for children and teens. Review copy provided by publisher.


  1. What a perfectly timed book review. We're traveling to the local butterfly house in a few weeks. Wonderful! Thanks.

    1. have fun! I visited a butterfly house once and it was such a wonderful experience.

  2. Love this book! I've had it out twice already, and always put it on better display at the library. Gorgeous. So glad you're featuring it.

    1. Maybe kids will pick it up because of the gorgeous cover...

  3. We visited a lovely butterfly house in England but I don't know of any nearby. You have me looking to find one - and the book!

    1. I, too, am searching for a local butterfly house. There are lots of butterflies in my fields and gardens, but a butterfly house would have some exotic species.

  4. This looks fascinating. Thank you

  5. This book looks wonderful. I love the description of the teenage stage, where they hang around the house and look like they're doing nothing!

    I'm trying to remember where I visited a butterfly house. I loved it, wherever it was!

  6. This looks like a terrific book. Thanks for telling me about it. I will certainly check it out.