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Wings of Light: The Migration of the Yellow Butterfly Hardcover – March 3, 2006
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From School Library Journal
Grade 2-4 On a summer morning a yellow butterfly with a notch in its wing, sliced by a bird's beak, flutters across the sunbeams of a Yucatán rain forest. So begins this account of the long, hazardous journey that some cloudless sulphur butterflies make to mate and lay their eggs somewhere in the eastern United States. Sunny watercolor views soften the arduous trek that will scatter the surviving butterflies and take the featured male all the way to southern Vermont. Unlike most animal migrations, this is a one-way trip, and not all of the species migrate. Explanation in a concluding author's note is not entirely clear on these matters. This is a travel story, complete with a map that creates an impression of the butterfly's migration and life cycle. A simple introduction to migration for younger readers. Margaret Bush, Simmons College, Boston
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
K-Gr. 3. A yellow butterfly joins others of its species in a migratory flight. Beginning in a rain forest on the Yucatan Peninsula, the butterflies (cloudless sulphurs) cross the Gulf of Mexico and scatter throughout the southern states, with the featured butterfly, along with a few others, continuing up the East Coast to Vermont. It mates with another butterfly, which lays eggs that hatch after the butterflies die. An author's note tells more about the species and its extraordinary 2,000-mile journey, fueled only by flower nectar. Avoiding anthropomorphism, Swinburne makes the story compelling by weaving sensory details into the facts. Hiscock's large-scale watercolor paintings capture the qualities of light in different environments as well as the beauty of nature, whether the setting is a Mexican forest, a Maryland coastal island, a New York City park, or a Vermont garden. An excellent map shows the migratory path. A well-written and beautifully illustrated picture book. Carolyn Phelan
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
Top customer reviews
The prose is rhythmic, but Swinburne's grand style sometimes tries too hard; that is, it begins to sound overwritten: "The next morning, the forest, from mossy floor to canopy, moves in flashes of yellow wings." "The bromeliad with a notch in it's wing perches on a bromeliad living on the branch of a fig tree." Some sentences are too long, or too illiterative: "Many of them fly to feed on the forest flowers." Some readers will enjoy these lush poetic sounds; however, I found them distracting, and the language may be somewhat too complex for toddlers. There's also one annoying mismatch of text and illustration. We read that "a yellow butterfly with a notch in its wing, sliced by a bird's beak," flutters by, but the butterfly (the one we follow throughout the book from its initial flight to its tired Disney-like "cycle of life" ending) is a small speck in the background, it's confusing bird-sliced notch barely visible.
Generally, however, the book presents an oooh- and ahhhh-inspiring narrative of the long migration path. There's a migration map part way through (although it shows only the USA leg of the migration; Central America is out of the picture),and an afterward which ponders--without directly answering--how such a small insect can make a trip of thousands of miles. By far, the best part of the book, unusually good, in fact, are the gripping watercolors of Mr. Hiscock. I think the book is most appropriate for older grade-schoolers who can understand the text, and who have some library skills to do further research. 29 pages (including frontispiece and afterward), on high quality paper, from Boyds Mills Publishing.