February 5 – Western Monarch Day

Happy Western Monarch Day!

Today is celebrated as the day the Western Monarch butterfly returns from Southern California where they spend the cold winter months back to their northern homes. Another sign that spring is on its way!

Here are two different kinds of books about monarch butterflies.

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Butterfly Tree written by Sandra Markle and illustrated by Leslie Wu (2011)

Jilly notices something strange in the sky over Lake Erie late one September afternoon. She runs home to her mother, wondering what it could be. She imagines its the breath of an invisible dragon, or dust from a distant volcano, or even an alien spaceship. Jilly’s mother grabs her hand and hurries her into the woods near the house. Jilly spots a bird with an orange breast, a leftover orange kite, but no cloud. Suddenly her dog, Fudge barks and stirs up what she thought were leaves on a tree. Monarch butterflies starting their journey to Mexico, have gathered in the woods to rest. They flutter and land on Jilly’s head and even on Fudge’s nose, until he barks again. Then Jilly and her mother walk home slowly treasuring the memory.

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The Butterfly written and illustrated by Patricia Polacco (2000)

One night in war torn France, Monique woke up to see a ghost of a girl sitting in her room petting her cat. The next morning her mother tells her it was only a dream. Then after school that day, Monique and her best friend Denise see their friend Monsieur Marks beaten and taken away by Nazi soldiers and they learn another terrible truth about the soldiers in the streets. Many nights later, Monique sees the same ghost in her room. The ghost is actually a little girl who is living in Monique’s cellar with her family. Her name is  Sevrine. The following day, Monique and her cat find a beautiful butterfly in her garden. As they were looking at it, a Nazi soldier came along and crushed the butterfly in his gloved hand. Monique cried to her mother again. From then on, Monique understood the fear in people’s hearts and eyes. She became friends with Sevrine without her mother knowing about it. She would bring her small gifts from outside, a flower, dirt, a butterfly. Sevrine freed the butterfly wishing to be free herself. Then one night, Monique’s parents dressed as a priest and a nun and took the family away. Monique gave Sevrine her kitten and Sevrine gave Monique her star of David necklace. On the way home that night, Monique dropped the necklace and was separated from her mother and ended up on a train alone. She was afraid. Finally she reached the station where she lived and ran all the way home. For weeks, Monique worried about Sevrine and her parents. She hoped for a sign that they were safe. Then one day in the garden, Monique and her mother were surprised by a small flock of monarch butterflies landing all around them. It was the sign she had been hoping for.

*****

For more information about butterflies, look at some of these non-fiction picture books.

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Butterflies written and illustrated by Seymour Simon (2011)

19165201Magnificent Monarch Butterflies for Curious Kids written by Aliki Goller (2013)

11619502A Monarch Butterfly’s Journey written by Suzanne Buckingham Slade and illustrated by Susan Swan (2011) 

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