PPBF – Butterflies Belong Here: A Story of One Idea, Thirty Kids, and a World of Butterflies

I always love picture books that relay facts, encourage kids to take action, and include a compelling story line. I think you’ll agree that today’s Perfect Picture Book is just such a book!

Title: Butterflies Belong Here: A Story of One Idea, Thirty Kids, and a World of Butterflies

Written By: Deborah Hopkinson

Illustrated By: Meilo So

Publisher/Date: Chronicle Books/2020

Suitable for Ages: 5-8

Themes/Topics: butterflies, environment, migration, immigrant

Opening:

Spring

Last spring, we took a class picture./ That’s me in the back./ I was a little like a caterpillar then:/ quiet and almost invisible./ I didn’t like to stand out or be noticed.

Brief Synopsis: The narrator, a new immigrant, loves butterflies and becomes more self-assured in her new school as she researches Monarch Butterflies and helps organize a schoolyard monarch way station.

Links to Resources:

Check out the fabulous back matter, including Author’s Note, Quick Guide to Making a Schoolyard Monarch Way Station, Miscellaneous Monarch Facts, and lists of books and internet resources for children and adults.

Why I Like this Book:

Butterflies Belong Here is an empowering picture book that shows how one passionate child can make a difference in our world. That the child is a recent immigrant adds to the story. I love how she finds her voice through sharing her knowledge and passion about monarch butterflies. I also love that her classmates rally to join her in a class project to help  build a way station for migrating monarch butterflies to recharge and refresh themselves on plants such as milkweed.

I think Butterflies Belong Here will appeal to nature lovers and to children wanting to learn about ways they can better their world. Filled with interesting monarch butterfly facts and concrete ways to help these lovely creatures, Butterflies Belong Here is a marvelous addition to classrooms and home libraries.

So’s detailed illustrations beautifully capture the worlds of the two travelers, the young narrator and the monarch butterflies she loves.

A Note about Craft:

The unnamed narrator of Butterflies Belong Here is a new immigrant, struggling to learn English. By choosing this narrator as the main character and main impetus for the monarch butterfly project, Hopkinson reminds readers that new immigrants have valuable ideas and talents to share and that stepping outside oneself and embracing a cause is a terrific way to adapt to a new land. Interestingly, both the narrator and the butterflies have migrated and changed by the story’s end.

Hopkinson shares many facts about monarch butterflies within the text. But rather than weaving them into the story or separating them completely in side boxes, these facts appear as “book pages” (ie, text being read by the narrator) on 4 double spreads. If you’re reading to a younger audience, these pages could be skipped to accommodate shorter attention spans. Older listeners, especially nature lovers, will find much to learn there, though.

Hopkinson and So also teamed up on Follow the Moon Home: A Tale of One Idea, Twenty Kids, and a Hundred Sea Turtles.

This Perfect Picture Book entry is being added to Susanna Hill’s Perfect Picture Book list. Check out the other great picture books featured there!

4 responses to “PPBF – Butterflies Belong Here: A Story of One Idea, Thirty Kids, and a World of Butterflies

  1. What an amazing story about a young immigrant making a difference in her community and inviting her classmates to join her. Truly a story with heart and finding your voice. I have love Monarchs since I first studied an followed their migration (as a reporter) in Ohio as they landed in the trees of a northwestern farm the same day every year on their way to Peru. Will check ouy this beautiful story.

  2. Oooh, I haven’t seen this one! I love the fresh take on monarch butterfly needs and migration. And that unusual layout sounds interesting. Adding it to my list!

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