________________ CM . . . . Volume XXII Number 10. . . .November 6, 2015


Traveling Butterflies.

Susumu Shingu.
Toronto, ON: Owlkids, 2015.
48 pp., hardcover, $18.95.
ISBN 978-1-77147-148-0.

Subject Headings:
Monarch butterfly-Juvenile literature.
Monarch butterfly-Migration-Juvenile literature.

Kindergarten-grade 3 / Ages 5-8.

Review by Meredith Cleversey.

***½ /4



One day in the short summer of a country up north,
a tiny creature wakes up inside an egg as small as a dewdrop.

She eats to grow bigger and bigger,
munching on lots of milkweed.

When she’s big enough, she wraps a cocoon around herself like a veil.
When she breaks out, she has changed!

Her new wings look like stained glass.


Every year, butterflies hatch in the summertime up north and then fly south for the winter months. Traveling Butterflies, written and illustrated by Susumu Shingu, takes readers on a journey alongside these graceful insects.

     Originally published in Japan and recently translated into English, Shingu’s story offers a small glimpse into the migrating patterns of the monarch butterfly. Written in short, poetic sentences, this lyrical depiction of the butterfly’s flight is calm and serene. The story starts with the hatching of a caterpillar and ends with butterflies fluttering in the south, preparing to make the return trip up north. The text, though simple and sometimes almost lost on the colourfully illustrated pages, flows nicely, the words a good match for the gentle nature of the butterfly itself.

     Susumu Shingu is primarily a visual artist, and it is the images in Traveling Butterflies which make this story captivating. Every page has a different illustrative focus. One two-page spread is taken up entirely by a single butterfly with outstretched wings while another two pages shows hundreds of butterflies flying around a forest. Perhaps the most interesting of all are the scenery-focussed pages. The teal shades of a waterfall, the grey hue of a cityscape, and the pretty green of a country village are lovely contrasts to the orange, black, and white butterflies soaring overhead. Even without the evocative text, the images of this story are enough to capture the eye and hold the reader’s attention.

     Because this is a lyrical story, there is not a great depth of detail provided about the titular creatures’ migration patterns. However, while likely not the best choice for primary information on the topic, Traveling Butterflies makes a lovely companion piece for the study of butterflies. Readers do see how caterpillars hatch and form cocoons as well as how butterflies travel, eat, and even stay dry in the rain. At the end of the story, a page providing some interesting facts about how butterfly life cycles are affected by migration makes this a valuable addition to butterfly study, both in and out of a classroom setting.

     Traveling Butterflies offers readers an expressive look at the migration of the monarch butterfly. An enjoyable read for those intrigued by the impressive travels of a delicate insect.

Highly Recommended.

Meredith Cleversey is a librarian in Cambridge, ON. She loves to read, write, and live in a world of pure imagination.

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

Copyright © the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.
Published by
The Manitoba Library Association
ISSN 1201-9364
Hosted by the University of Manitoba.

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