Becoming Butterflies
Author: Anne F. Rockwell; Illustrator: Megan Halsey
Pages: 32
Publisher/Date: Walker & Company/2002
ISBN: 0802787975
Age Levels: 4-8

Book Review

"One day Miss Dana brought a surprise to school—three striped caterpillars and a flowerpot. A green plant called milkweed was growing in the flowerpot." So begins this informative and charming tale about a classroom full of curious children and three caterpillars. The caterpillars become, in time, magnificent Monarch butterflies.

As the children watch the metamorphosis, they draw pictures and comment on the process. They also ask the questions readers would like to ask, thus allowing the author to seamlessly weave tidbits of information into the story .

We learn, for example, that when the caterpillar's skin splits for the fifth time, it is ready to become a chrysalis.

At story's end, the butterflies, after drying their wings, are set free at an open window. The children watch them go with a mixture of sadness and hope. Thankfully, the author does not end the classroom adventure there (as she might have). Rather, Miss Dana shows the children where Mexico is on a map and tells them the butterflies will eventually go there before the onset of winter. The students then write a letter to schoolchildren at a school in Chincua, Mexico, asking them to "Please take good care of our butterflies." Winter arrives and so does a letter from the students in Chincua, along with a picture of a tree laden with Monarch butterflies. "All of us looked and looked," says the narrator, "wondering which were the three butterflies we hatched in our classroom and set free to fly so far away."

Also included is an author's note, which gives readers more information about Monarchs as well as an Internet resource where they may go for more information. The endpapers at the book's beginning show illustrations of nine different caterpillars. Turning to the back of the book, readers are treated to colorful, detailed illustrations of the butterflies they become.

The illustrations are watercolors that have been cut and then layered, thus creating lively, realistic, three-dimensional scenes.

Classroom Use: We took the book into a second grade classroom to read aloud. The children enjoyed it immensely and asked many thoughtful questions about caterpillars and butterflies. They were especially taken with the illustrations, poring over each page and pointing out details to one another.

A definite "must-have" for your classroom.

Reviewed by the teachers at Education Oasis
©2003 Education Oasis

About the Author

Anne Rockwell is the author of One Bean, Pumpkin Day, Pumpkin Night, and the author and illustrator of Welcome to Kindergarten. Ms. Rockwell lives in Greenwich, Connecticut.

About the Illustrator

Megan Halsey has illustrated several children's books, and her work has been described by Kirkus Review as "trompe l'oeil marvels." She collaborated with Anne Rockwell on One Bean and Pumpkin Day, Pumpkin Night for Walker & Company. Megan lives in Lansdowne, Pennsylvania.


Be sure to visit Monarch Watch, a Web site full of information on these magnificent creatures.