Friday, May 24, 2019

Insects and people who love them

Dragonflies and butterflies will soon fill our summer skies... so here are two books for curious entomologists and artists.

theme: insects, nature, art

Soar High, Dragonfly
by Sheri M. Bestor; illus. by Jonny Lambert
32 pages; ages 5 - 8
Sleeping Bear Press, 2019

Spring sun warms the earth. Seeds sprout. Birds build nests. High above, tiny wings hum like wind through the leaves.

This book introduces readers to the life of a green darner dragonfly. Green darners are one of the species that migrate, flying north in spring and south in fall.

What I like about this book: There are three layers of text. Large text tells the story of a dragonfly’s life, from egg to adult. Even larger text provides sound effects, such as the “Pop. Pop. Pop” of eggs landing on the surface of the pond – or the exclamations of “Oh my, dragonfly!”  Sidebars, in smaller text, add more details about the natural history of these amazing insects. The illustrations, bright and marbled and reminiscent of Eric Carle, invite you to explore the scenes spread across the pages. Even the end papers offer plenty to see. I would have liked some back matter offering more information, such as how the nymphs breathe underwater and whether climate change is affecting their migration.

The Bug Girl: Maria Merian's Scientific Vision 
by Sarah Glenn Marsh; illus. by Filippo Vanzo
32 pages; ages 5 - 7
Albert Whitman & Company, 2019

As  a young girl growing up in the 1650s, Maria Merian was curious about everything…

… especially the creatures that crawled, flew, and scuttled. Especially butterflies. Once her stepfather taught her to paint, Maria wanted to paint those tiny critters that crawled and flew and scuttled. But she had to study them in secret because people thought that insects were shapeshifters – and anyone studying them would be considered a witch. And witches were put on trial and punished.

What I like about this book: I like the way author Sarah Glenn Marsh introduces us to Maria: we learn about silkworms as Maria studies them. Maria may have wanted to learn more in order to paint her butterflies, but she also did science as well. She learned what foods her silkworms preferred, and she observed adults chewing their way through cocoons. After silkworms, Maria wanted to know more about other kinds of butterflies and moths, so she studied them, too. I especially like that we see her teaching her daughters to observe and ask questions. Back matter goes into detail about the time Maria lived.

Beyond the Books:

Learn more about dragonflies! Here's one resource, and here's a bunch of fun facts from Smithsonian.

Go on a caterpillar hunt - look for different kinds of caterpillars in your yard, in gardens, or in weeds growing at the edges of a park. Draw some of the caterpillars you find. Here's a handy caterpillar guide. 

Make some butterfly art- if you need some ideas, here is a source for art activities.

Today we're joining other book bloggers over at STEM Friday, where you can discover other cool STEM books. And we're joining Perfect Picture Book Friday, an event where bloggers share great picture books at Susanna Leonard Hill's website . Review copies provided by publishers.


  1. I love Maria's story! I was first introduced to it through Joyce Sidman's book. The Girl Who Drew Butterflies, last year. Have you seen it? This looks like another great one.

  2. I love Soar High, Dragonfly. I haven't read The Bug Girl, but I did read Joyce Sidman's book about her. It's a great story.

  3. Great combo choice of books. Nice to see another Maria Merian story.