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Summer Birds: The Butterflies of Maria Merian
Format: HardcoverChange
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on May 3, 2010
This is an outstanding book in every way. "The true story of a girl who broke new ground as a scientist and an artist!"

Margarita Engle's writing and the pictures by Julie Paschkis combine so well to tell the story of Maria Merian, who I learned was born in Germany (1647).

I studied and worked in education for 20 years and had the privilege of teaching students from the early childhood level to grandparents. In my opinion, this book will appeal to all. As I watch butterflies from now on, I will think of "Summer Birds." My mother was German, so I also felt a personal connection. Wonderful book!
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Beautiful butterflies flitted from flower to flower sipping the nectar. Maria was thirteen-years-old and carefully watched them as they flew through the air and went about their work. People called them "summer birds" and felt they were "beasts of the devil" because they sprang from the muds of the earth. It was a sort of magic because in that day and age everyone believed in shape shifting and werewolves, but Maria knew differently. She carefully captured beetles, summer birds, and dragonflies so she could study them and learn their ways. It had to be a secret venture because she would be accused of witchcraft if anyone caught wind of what she was doing.

She kept them in boxes and jars, fed them, and watched them grow. It was a secret, but she would soon discover the secrets these so called "beasts of the devil" held. She learned that "caterpillars are born from eggs laid by summer birds," that they ate leaves, later spun cocoons, and finally turned into those marvelous summer birds. They slowly emerged from their cocoons and once again she watched their life cycle. No, they were far from evil and were "not born from mud," but would anyone believe her? She began to study them in earnest, paint them, and continued to learn. Perhaps one day she could make people understand.

This is a stunning portrait of a young girl, Maria Sibylla Merian, who made the world realize that insects and summer birds were not evil. The presentation of this book was fascinating and young people will be able to learn about the life cycle of the butterfly in a very painless manner. Of course they will also learn about Maria Sibylla Merian, a young woman whose curiosity took her around the world in her quest for knowledge. The artwork is simply stunning and I was especially impressed with one two-page spread with an assortment of insects, "summer birds," and Maria sporting a set of wings against a black background. In the back of the book is a brief, but interesting look at the life of Maria.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
SUMMER BIRDS was nominated for the 2011 Rodda Book Award sponsored by the Church and Synagogue Library Association (CSLA), an international organization serving congregational libraries of all faiths. CSLA's Rodda Award is named for Dorothy Rodda Sargent, a lifetime member and one of the founders of the organization. This award recognizes a book which exhibits excellence in writing and has contributed significantly to congregational libraries through promotion of spiritual growth. The award is given to books for adults, young adults, and children on a three-year-rotational basis. The 2011 Rodda Award focuses on books for children and this year's award will be presented at the CSLA annual conference to be held at the Hilton Embassy Row Hotel in Washington,D.C., July 19-22. To learn more about CSLA and the Rodda Award go to [...].
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on June 23, 2014
I discovered Maria Merian when looking for women botanists to share with my students. I was shocked to find out that Maria Merian was an amazing artist and scientist with a great story. This book captivated my students. Well written and illustrated.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Bought the book for my great-granddaughter - she loved it. One of the better books I've bought for her. Would recommend for anyone.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
This is an inspiring story about a young female scientist, Maria Sibylla Merian, who in the 1600's overturned years of medieval thought about the origin of butterflies, then known as `summer birds.' Through simple observation she discovered the process of metamorphosis from caterpillar to butterfly. This is a fantastic introduction to a little-known, but very influential early modern scientist. Beautiful painted illustrations inspired by medieval woodcuts in bright, rich colors are paired with an appealing, easy to understand text. "Today as a result of [her] careful studies, we know that butterflies, moths and frogs do not spring from mud. We also know that they are not evil, but natural and amazing." This attractive volume deserves a place in every library. I highly recommend this book!
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on June 26, 2015
I am sending this to our Granddaughters in July. I fell in love with it and shared it with friends. The illustrations are just beautiful and the story of a brave young girl who did her research and discovered how the butterflies perpetuate is a wonderful example for young girls. Our Granddaughters are 5 and 8. One wants to be scientist so I am sure she will identify with the story. I loved the name Summer Birds for butterflies. I also learned interesting facts from this book.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on September 8, 2011
As a member of the American Society of Botanical Artists, I am thrilled with this sweet story--Maria Sybilla Merian was a woman of great spirit and her artwork was groundbreaking stuff at a time when women were helpmeets and cloistered from real life. For 'the rest of the story' read "Chrysalis" by Kim Todd. Summer Birds is a wonderful take on Maria Sybilla Merian! Thank you, Engle and Pashkis.
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I came across Maria Merian Sybilla when I was doing my genealogy. She lived in a commune with my family. I wanted this for my grandson so he could see that history can relate to his own history too. I'm glad she is being celebrated. A fascinating woman and added important ideas about habitat and how organisms reproduce.
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on July 17, 2015
I use this to teach insect metamorphosis in grades 3-5. It's a true story, and shows the value of critical thinking, making observations and inferences, and creating notebook entries. The illustrations are incredible.
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