Written by Joan Z Calder
Reviewed by Barbara Bray
If you are looking for a good book about Monarch butterflies geared towards young children, this is the perfect choice. From the inviting title to the cute story, Joan Calder draws the reader (and listeners) into the relationship between a young girl and two monarch caterpillars on a milkweed plant. The story begins in the family garden. Bonnie, the young girl in the story, loves monarch butterflies and imagines they are airplanes. When her mom points out the eggs on the milkweed, Bonnie returns every day to watch the eggs until caterpillars emerge. Then she “adopts” two of them and lovingly bestows the names, Sergio and Stanley, on them. Excitement builds as the caterpillars grow larger. Then one day they disappear. Bonnie, upset at first, soon discovers Sergio and Stanley on the verge of changing into butterflies. She watches each of them form a chrysalis, develop inside, and eventually emerge as adults.
Airplanes in the Garden is more than just a good story, though; it is a work of art and a wonderful source of information that grows with your child. The illustrations, by water color artist Cathy Quiel, help the reader to see what young Bonnie sees: monarch butterflies as airplanes and flowers as airports. The illustrations are full of details that complement the story. Children will love the image of a monarch “airplane” filled with bug passengers! They will also fall in love with Sergio and Stanley, who look so cute munching on their milkweed leaves. The combination of a great story and beautiful pictures is what will keep the interest of preschool-aged children. As children get older and ask more questions, the book presents information about the life cycle of the monarch butterfly, migration routes, and butterfly gardens.
I recently had an opportunity to read this book to a small group of children, ages 4-6. After the story, I asked the kids whether they liked it, and it was unanimous! All eight children said that they liked the story a lot. One little girl said that she especially enjoyed it because it was about a butterfly. The story and pictures helped keep the youngest ones engaged, while the older kids enjoyed the details. A favorite part of the story occurred when the mom was telling Bonnie about the life cycle of a monarch. After listening to her mom, Bonnie finally says, “I’m going to call this ‘the-plant-that-grows-butterflies”. All the kids thought that was pretty funny.
All in all, Airplanes in the Garden, is a fun and informative book that will entertain as well as educate children from preschool age to early elementary school age. I highly recommend this book
We have signed copies of Airplanes in the Garden, an award-winning children’s book, available for purchase at the Wild Store. Cost is $23 which includes shipping and handling.