Summer Birds: The Butterflies of Maria Merian

by Margarita Engle and Julie Paschkis

“Summer birds” was a medieval term used for butterflies. This inspiring... read more

“Summer birds” was a medieval term used for butterflies. This inspiring narrative is written in the voice of Maria Merian, who was thirteen and living in mid-seventeenth-century Germany when she determined that, counter to common belief, butterflies did not appear magically from the mud but changed from one form to another before emerging from cocoons. Margarita Engle’s brief text manages to not only convey a wealth of factual information about butterflies but also a sense of the superstitions Maria challenged with her careful observations (insects were believed to be evil), as well as her soaring spirit and determination. Julie Paschkis’s lovely illustrations are full of small moments of nature’s wonders that Maria found so fascinating. A historical note provides additional information about the life of Maria Merian, who grew up to become famous as a scientist, artist, and explorer. (Ages 5–8)

© Cooperative Children's Book Center, Univ. of Wisconsin - Madison, 2011

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