________________ CM . . . . Volume XVIII Number 38 . . . . June 1, 2012


How to Raise Monarch Butterflies: A Step-by-Step Guide for Kids.

Carol Pasternak.
Richmond Hill, ON: Firefly Books, 2012.
48 pp., pbk. & hc., $8.95 (pbk.), $19.95 (hc.).
ISBN 978-1-77085-002-6 (pbk.), ISBN 978-1-77085-001-9 (hc.).

Subject Headings:
Monarch butterfly-Juvenile literature.
Monarch butterfly-Life Cycles-Juvenile literature.

Grades 3-7 / Ages 8-12.

Review by Gillian Richardson.

**** /4



If you just can't wait to start your adventure, you can start looking for monarch eggs as soon as the adults return to your area from their overwintering grounds. This would be March in Texas and June in Canada.

You'll have to look carefully, though! A monarch egg is smaller than a sesame seed. It's creamy white and the shape of a football. Monarchs lay their eggs only on milkweed, usually on the underside of the leaf. If you see a monarch laying an egg, go straight to the plant and carefully cut off the leaf with the egg on it.

Once you've gathered a few eggs, take them home to the nursery. Line your plastic container with a damp paper towel, then lay out your leaves, egg side up. Cover the container to keep the moisture in and help prevent the leaves from drying out.

Wildlife watching is a great hobby for kids, and an excellent way for them to learn about nature. Keeping a pet offers enduring rewards. What if you could combine the two? This book shows kids how to enjoy caring for a wild creature for the time it takes to undergo its amazing metamorphosis: caterpillar to butterfly. Besides witnessing a miracle of nature firsthand, kids will gain an understanding and develop empathy for all living things, and for the monarch in particular, a creature that "seems to exist just to delight us."

internal art      Basic information about the monarch butterfly comes first with large photos to show anatomy at each stage of its life cycle. The chapter, "Raising Monarchs", outlines the equipment needed to raise and care for them, and where to find caterpillars or eggs. "The Monarch Life Cycle" has wonderful sequential photos of the various stages of life. "Out in the World" explains how to release the adult insect, and what it will face in terms of perils as it carries out its life and incredible 4000 km (2500 mile) migration. There's an informative chapter, "Creating a Butterfly Garden", to carry on the hobby, and how to grow milkweed (monarchs' exclusive food). Finally, "Saving the World for Butterflies" encourages the use of native plants, the support of laws to preserve wildlife habitats and of organizations working to conserve butterflies. The book includes a comprehensive list of places to look for more information, a Glossary of new terms and an Index.

      The step-by-step approach will be easy for youngsters to follow. The cost factor is low, making this activity accessible to all. The author has anticipated every query: have more than one plastic container on hand in case the first one becomes crowded; keep extra milkweed leaves fresh in the refrigerator for two days; beware of collecting plants that may have been sprayed with pesticides, be ready with your camera to capture the emergence of the adults early in the morning. The level of responsibility is not glossed over: these are living creatures that need daily attention just like any other pet. The relatively short time frame of the project and the fun of 'release day' will have great appeal for 'kids' young and old. Even though the butterfly raising, itself, is done, kids still have the fun of photographing their charges upon release.

      Every aspect of this project is illustrated clearly with excellent photographs, many of them taken by the author. This makes the book great for visual learners as well as those who will do careful reading. There's even a photo to help you tell girl monarchs from boys (spot on each hind wing).

      This bright, colorful and highly informative book belongs in the school library (great classroom activity) and is perfect for a gift. Everyone recognizes monarch butterflies, and kids'll find it hard to resist becoming involved with raising them.

Highly Recommended.

Gillian Richardson is a freelance writer living in BC.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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