The Butterflies of Maria Merian
Margarita Engle; illustrations by Julie Paschkis
Henry Holt and Co. (BYR)
In the Middle Ages, people believed that insects were evil, born from mud in a process called spontaneous generation. Maria Merian was only a child, but she disagreed. She watched carefully as caterpillars spun themselves cocoons, which opened to reveal summer birds, or butterflies and moths. Maria studied the whole life cycle of the summer birds, and documented what she learned in vibrant paintings.
This is the story of one young girl who took the time to observe and learn, and in so doing disproved a theory that went all the way back to ancient Greece.
GA Picture Storybook Award ML, CCBC Choice (Univ. of WI), Capitol Choices Noteworthy Titles for Children and Teens, Georgia Children's Book Award Master List (University of GA)
Praise for Summer Birds
“Top-notch writing and absolutely stunning illustrations tell [Merian's] inspirational story. A historical note at the end adds detail about Maria's life. Just right for budding scientists. Grade: A” —Cleveland Plain Dealer
“Bolstered by flat but elegantly rendered paintings, the award-winning Engle illuminates the life of an early female scientist. It all makes for pleasant reading and stirring stuff.” —San Francisco Chronicle
“In expertly pared-down language, the poetic lines deftly fold in basic science concepts about life cycles, along with biographical details that are further developed in an appended historical note. Paschkis' brilliantly colored and patterned paintings are an exuberant counterpoint to the minimal words. …Joyous and inspiring, this beautiful introduction to a passionate young scientist ho defied grown-ups and changed history will spark children's own fascination with the natural world and its everyday dramas.” —Booklist, Starred Review
“The illustrator's rich, gouache folk-style paintings, sometimes on a solid black background, share that joy in the natural world and with gentle fancy bring this little-known artist and entomologist to life.” —Kirkus, Starred Review