Kid's Stuff -- Books About Butterflies (and Caterpillars, too!)
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Butterflies sure are pretty... and magical... and metamorphic and metaphoric... and a constant source of interest to children and writers alike. Here are a few groovy butterfly books (I'm sure there are a lot more: any suggestions?)

"Butterfly House"
Written by Eve Bunting
Illustrated by Greg Shed
(Scholastic Books, 1999)

A first-person narrative about a little girl who finds a fuzzy black caterpillar and, with the help of her kindly grandfather, builds it a nesting box, where it can make the transition from larva to butterfly. Then, when the time comes, she faces the if-you-love-someone-set-them-free moment, and lets the painted lady go... In a circle-of-life twist, the girl grows up to be an old woman, and her flower garden is graced by thousands of butterflies each year, the grateful descendants of the original. A nice nature-lovers morality tale, showing kindness and empathy, and also a nice how-to book for folks who either just want to know how butterflies metamorphose, or want to build a butterfly box themselves. (B+)

"The Very Hungry Caterpillar"
Written by Eric Carle
Illustrated by Eric Carle
(Putnam/Philomel, 1969)

An enduring classic which that acts on many levels... A colorful, pop-uppish layout for a nature parable showing the caterpillar-to-butterfly metamorphosis, with text that teaches numbers, days of the week and how eating too much junk food can give you a tummyache. Plus, what pretty pictures! Each version has its strengths -- I kinda like the board book version best! (A)

"Gotta Go! Gotta Go!"
Written by Sam Swope
Illustrated by Sue Riddle
(Farrar, Straus Giroux, 2000)

You'd be forgiven for assuming this is a book about potty training... It's not, though, rather, it's a lovely little fable about the monarch butterfly migration, told from the point of view of a "teeny-tiny, creepy-crawly little bug" who hatches in the moddle of a field, born with the urge to migrate to Mexico. None of the other bugs she meets knows where that is, but after she stops to nap a nap (and grow some wings) the newly fledged butterfly makes it down south to where the big butterfly parties are held, then comes back to lay eggs of her own. A nice cycle-of-life story with a cute little protagonist... (Postscript: I guess the science behind butterfly migrations is now coming into question, but it's still a great story. Definitely worth checking out, also great for use in the classroom.) (B+)

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