The Language of Butterflies: How Thieves, Hoarders, Scientists, and Other Obsessives Unlocked the Secrets of the World’s Favorite Insect

Wendy Williams. Simon & Schuster, $26 (240p) ISBN 978-1-5011-7806-1
Science journalist Williams (The Horse), mixing a discussion of her experiences learning about butterflies with an overview of centuries’ worth of research, offers a deeply personal and lyrical book that also provides meaningful scientific insight. Captivated by the insects’ beauty, she writes, “The language of butterflies is the language of color,” and that she likes to “imagine them as the world’s first artists.” She relates the stories of similarly entranced people, including Maria Sibylla Merian, who, in the 17th century, cast aside gender norms to pursue entomology and traveled from her native Germany to Suriname to find the spectacular blue morpho butterfly, in the process writing the first account of the caterpillar-to-butterfly transformation. Williams spends much time on monarch butterfly biology, discussing the insects’ ability to migrate thousands of miles and the iridescent wing scales that give them, like all butterflies, their signature patterns. She also discusses the factors behind declining butterfly populations, from habitat destruction to climate change, but remains optimistic that corrective action is still possible. Nature-loving readers will surely share the joy Williams takes in her subject in this admiring tribute to the butterfly. Agent: Michelle Tessler, Tessler Literary. (June)
Reviewed on : 12/10/2019
Release date: 05/01/2020
Genre: Nonfiction
Downloadable Audio - 978-1-7971-0960-2
Book - 978-1-5011-7807-8
Book - 978-1-5011-7808-5
Compact Disc - 978-1-7971-0962-6
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