Monday, November 2, 2009

Book Review: Monarch and Milkweed by Helen Frost

Book: Monarch and Milkweed
Author: Helen Frost
Illustrator: Leonid Gore
Published: 2008
Source: Local Library

Every year, the milkweed plant blooms in the spring, and the monarch butterfly comes up from Mexico to find it. Their respective life cycles twine around each other throughout the summer. Then in fall, the milkweed dies and the monarch flies away--but spring will always come again.

This is an example of a nonfiction book that could captivate children as young as four. Helen Frost starts the book out with parallel narratives for the monarch and the milkweed, which draw closer together and eventually blend before separating again at the end. Her dreamy prose is descriptive without being clinical: "Inside Monarch's egg, a caterpillar forms / and four days later pushes out / shorter than an eyelash / almost invisible against the leaf's pale green." Can't you imagine reading that aloud? She also includes an author's note in the back with a little more information on monarch butterflies.

Leonid Gore's acrylic-and-pastel art in this book is flat-out beautiful. There's a spread of a flock of butterflies over a field of flowers that I pretty much wanted to cut out and frame. The caterpillars, butterflies, and plants are displayed in a mix of careful biological detail and beautiful art. A fascinating book for kids that love nature, science, bugs, or just a really good story.

Posted for Nonfiction Monday.

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