The Girl Who Drew Butterflies: How Maria Merian’s Art Changed Science

Joyce Sidman. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $17.99 (160p) ISBN 978-0-544-71713-8
Spreads splashed with vibrant, eye-catching paintings of insects and flowers help tell the story of 17th-century German trailblazer Maria Merian. Eschewing the mores of her time, she became a leading botanical artist, naturalist, and (possibly) the world’s first ecologist, as she depicted insects—in all their developmental stages—alongside their botanical food sources and helped establish the idea that butterflies and moths come from caterpillars. Sidman (Round) punctuates a well-researched, engaging narrative (“She had the curiosity of a true scientist, the patience it took to raise insects, and the superb artistic skill necessary to share her observations”) with excerpts from Merian’s journals to bring the courageous artist’s own voice into the mix. Eclectic sidebars contextualize the biography (one discusses witch hunts of the era), along with archival images, maps, and full-color photographs. Stages of butterfly metamorphosis (accompanied by a trademark Sidman nature poem) serve as fitting chapter headings and mirror the stages of Merian’s life; a chapter titled “Flight” focuses on her groundbreaking research trip to Surinam. An author’s note, timeline, bibliography, and index conclude this beautifully designed and expansive portrait of a gifted boundary breaker. Ages 10–12. (Feb.)
Reviewed on: 11/20/2017
Release date: 02/20/2018
The Best Books, Emailed Every Week
Tip Sheet!
MORE BOOKS YOU'D LIKE
X