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The Story of a Monarch Butterfly

by Laurence Pringle & illustrated by Bob Marstall

Age Range: 8 - 12

Pub Date: March 1st, 1997
ISBN: 0-531-30002-1
Publisher: Orchard

 A migration flight from New England to Mexico and back again would be impressive for a large goose; for a monarch butterfly, it's nothing short of miraculous. Pringle (Smoking, 1996, etc.) and Marstall capture that miracle in this chronicle of the lifetime of a monarch called Danaus (after its Latin name). Readers follow Danaus on her perilous journey from Massachusetts, slipping through cat paws and struggling with bad weather until she and thousands of other monarchs find their winter homes in Mexico and California. Even there, life is dangerous: Cold weather and predators kill off many monarchs before spring arrives, when they mate, fly north, lay their eggs, and die. Pringle writes simply of all the small, fascinating details that make up the monarch's life cycle, while illustrations and captions help readers visualize the information, e.g., that delicate gold dots on a monarch's chrysalis may help disguise the chrysalis from predators by reflecting sunlight like drops of dew, and the caterpillar's markings warn predators that it eats milkweed, making it poisonous to some. Marstall provides nearly photorealistic views of biological processes, but never neglects the poetic aspect of the information. A superb, well-researched book that finds extraordinary science in the everyday life of a butterfly. (maps, diagrams, further reading, index) (Nonfiction. 8-12)