CM . . . . Volume XIX Number 5 . . . . October 5, 2012
Bye, Bye, Butterflies!, an ideal blend of story and science, introduces young readers to the butterfly life cycle through a fictional narrative. Readers follow a young boy, Charlie, and his father, who are out for a quiet walk on a city street, straining to hear the sounds of nature. Instead, they hear the raised voices of happy children shouting, “Bye, bye, butterflies.” The significance of this hollering will not be realised by Charlie until the end of his first year of school when his teacher initiates a hands-on activity on the butterfly life cycle by bringing a box of live caterpillars to school. The children tend to their caterpillars, learning not only about their development, but also about the skills required for managing scientific experiments, such as observation (and patience). Once the caterpillars undergo metamorphosis and become butterflies, Charlie and his classmates are led to a rooftop where they let their butterflies go, hollering “Bye, bye, butterflies,” just as Charlie had heard the previous year. A young boy hears Charlie and his class shouting, leading readers into a complete narrative circle that mirrors the cyclical nature of the butterfly life cycle.
There are few exceptional picture books on the market that successfully meld story and science without sounding too technical, too wordy, or just plain boring. Bye, Bye, Butterflies! serves as a model for being able to hold a young child’s attention while listening/reading a compelling storyline with an interesting character – and sneaking in some really cool science, too. The reviewer read it several times to her three-year-old daughter who was captivated from start to finish. The last few pages offer older children more information about butterflies, specifically, the differences between moths and butterflies, defense mechanisms, life cycle, migration patterns, and “cool facts.” Young children will be attracted to the instructions on how to draw a butterfly (and Charlie). The design of this book and its colourful, compelling illustrations, which are drawn in a realistic manner, enhance the story. Adults may wish to check out the artist’s web page and blog for behind-the-scenes information about the illustration process. Adults and children alike will appreciate and enjoy all aspects of this book, from plot to text to illustration.
Roxy Garstad is a librarian at MacEwan University in Edmonton, AB.
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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.