Monarch Butterfly

Holiday House. rev. ed. ed. Jan. 2021. 32p. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9780823448319.
Gr 1-4–There are many offerings about the monarch butterfly, but this new and updated version of the 1989 title stands out because of its clear, descriptive explanation of how monarchs grow and develop. The illustrations work seamlessly to support and enhance the words, and the text’s use of numbers helps readers understand the monarch butterfly’s life cycle. Readers who are familiar with Gibbons’s other titles will recognize her engaging, informative style. The narrative quickly focuses on the setting: “It’s summertime in North America. A breeze stirs the stem of the milkweed plant.” The text then proceeds to break down the process of how a monarch egg is laid on a milkweed plant, hatches, molts, forms a chrysalis, and migrates. New vocabulary is explained and used within the descriptive text. There are two notable features. The first is the description of the processes of molting and metamorphosis. On the verso, an illustration shows a caterpillar beginning to molt. On the recto, there are four sequential illustrations that depict the process. Observant readers will spot interesting details that illuminate the text. The explanation of metamorphosis is featured in a remarkable eight-page sequence. The vivid prose that accompanies this sequence is informative. A second commendable feature is the use of numbers throughout. Readers learn data-based facts, including how fast and how far the butterflies travel. A collection of illustrated facts is found in the back matter.
VERDICT An outstanding choice for instructional use and enjoyable reading.

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