Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Butterfly Birthday by Harriet Ziefert, illustrated by Mark Jones

Caterpillars and other bugs gather to celebrate the vernal equinox in an explosion of color and light. I love the vibrant, gorgeous colors and elaborate decorations and details of the bugs' celebrations. The art is definitely the high point of this book.

I was disappointed by the text. It's too scattered and has no strong narrative thread. The odd juxtaposition of fact - how bugs hibernate for the winter, metamorphosis, and the vernal equinox - contrast oddly with the anthropomorphic bugs and their party. The addition of a "lesson" is also confusing; a small ant is upset that the caterpillars aren't helping with the party, but then learns that they are doing their own work, changing into butterflies. The story ends on an odd note with an unanswered question from the small ant.

I tried reading this in storytime and although the kids liked looking at the pictures, they really, really didn't care for the story. Preschoolers are too young to understand the concept of the vernal equinox and don't understand metamorphosis as presented in the book. But I don't think the anthropomorphic bugs will appeal to older children.

Verdict: Reluctantly not recommended for library purchase, because I really, really do love the artwork, but the text just doesn't work.

ISBN: 9781609050153; Published March 2010 by Blue Apple Books; Review copy provided by publisher for Cybils

No comments: