Thursday, October 15, 2015

Book Review: Traveling Butterflies by Susumu Shingu (2015)

In simple text, this book relates the metamorphosis of monarch butterflies from tiny eggs to beautiful orange creatures which migrate many miles to their ideal mating place.

The pictures in this book are just perfect for curious toddlers who like to see everything up close. The images early in the book of the egg, caterpillar, and cocoon are oversized and shown against plain backgrounds, leaving the facts of the creature's behavior to speak for themselves. Little Miss Muffet was fascinated (and somewhat terrified) of the page which shows the butterfly emerging slowly from the chrysalis. Though the scientific terms for what is happening in that scene are beyond her vocabulary at this point, she was able to get an age-appropriate sense of the butterfly's life cycle by looking at those pictures. Later images place a bright orange flock of butterflies against various backdrops, which shows in child-friendly terms how far the butterflies travel each year. These images are just lovely to look at, and any one of them on its own is practically suitable for framing.

There aren't many non-fiction picture book titles that I would recommend for toddlers, but this one really is simple enough that one and two-year-olds can mostly stick with it. Sentences are broken up over several pages, so there are few words per page, and the vocabulary is scientifically accurate but not overwhelmingly technical. (Little Miss Muffet added the words milkweed, cocoon, and nectar to her vocabulary after just two times through the book.) This book reminds me a lot of Jim Arnosky's simple picture books about animal behavior (such as Little Lions and Rabbits and Raindrops) and it would also pair nicely with I Love Bugs! by Philemon Sturges, Bugs! Bugs! Bugs! by Bob Barner, Beetle Bop by Denise Fleming, and Butterfly Butterfly by Petr Horacek.

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