Today I felt as if Monarch butterflies were fluttering everywhere in my little part of Vermont. I think this group will migrate south to overwinter, then return in the spring. So, this picture book review is timely.
Velma Gratch & The Way Cool Butterfly by Alan Madison and Kevin Hawkes
Velma was the youngest of the three Gratch sisters – and the third sister to be in the first grade. She felt overshadowed by her older sisters.
“Everyone from the class guinea pig to the principal had magnificent memories of the older Gratch girls. But they could hardly even recall Velma’s name.”
Velma tried to get people to notice her. She sang very loudly in music class. She ran very slowly in gym. She muddled math problems and refused to read. She was sent to the principal’s office (the first Gratch sister to do that).
Velma really liked science. They learned about rainbows and volcanic activity. They started learning about butterflies. Velma paid extra close attention to the lessons. She asked her sisters if they had studied butterflies in first grade – and found that they had not (one studied worms, the other studied frogs). So, she was the first to study butterflies. She read everything about butterflies that she could find in the library. The Monarch butterfly was her favorite.
Velma’s first grade class went on a field trip to the Butterfly Conservatory. (Her sisters hadn’t been there, and thought it sounded cool.) It was a wonderful place with butterflies flying around – even landing on a few classmates.
Just as it was time to leave a Monarch butterfly landed on Velma’s finger. And, it wouldn’t get off. Of course, “Velma was in heaven.” But, the butterfly needed to stay at the conservatory. Everyone tried to get it to move (without touching it, which could damage its wings). Finally, Velma had to leave with the butterfly on her finger.
The butterfly stayed on her finger on the bus back to school, at night while she slept, during gym, and math, and reading, and ballet, and soccer….. “Soon everyone, from the class guinea pig to the principal knew about Velma and her butterfly.” The principal told Velma that the butterfly had to go.
“Oh, I’ve tried to get it to go,” Velma moaned, “but it just won’t”
“Well, no one will ever forget this,” the principal fumed.
Velma’s frown pretzel-twisted into a small smile.
And, Velma knew what to do – help the butterfly migrate. Velma led the principal, her class, and her sisters to the park. There, they found the guide from the conservatory carefully releasing a sack of Monarch butterflies.
“The monarch jumped onto her nose, as if to give her a kiss, and then took flight to join its friends. Over the treetops it flew, over the skyscrapers, and up into the wild blue, orange, and black yonder on its way to Mexico.”
This is a great picture book – with a fun main character, lively illustrations, and some interesting information about butterflies. It was one of my daughter’s favorites.