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Becoming butterflies

Publication Information:
New York : Walker & Company, 2002.
Physical Description:
1 v. (unpaged) : color illustrations, maps.
Added Author:
A class observes the various stages caterpillars go through to become butterflies.


Material Type
Call Number
Item Available
Book J 595.78 ROC 1 1

On Order



One day Miss Dana brings a surprise to school -- three striped caterpillars and a flowerpot full of milkweed. Her students can't believe that these tiny, wriggling creatures less than an inch long will grow into butterflies, fragile beauties strong enough to fly thousands of miles to their winter home in Mexico.And so begins a magical month of metamorphosis. The children observe and draw the changes they see as the caterpillars transform themselves right before their eyes. When the newly formed butterflies break free of their chrysalises, it is time for the class to let them go find their place in the world.This captivating concept book simply and eloquently invites young children to witness and celebrate the cycle of life.

Author Notes

Anne Rockwell was born in Memphis, Tennessee on February 8, 1934. She moved to New York City at the age of 18 and found a job doing typing work for a textbook publisher. She studied at Pratt Graphic Arts Center and at the Sculpture Center.

She became an author and illustrator. Her first children's book, Paul and Arthur Search for the Egg, was published in 1964. Her other books included Boats, Fire Engines, Things That Go, Our Earth, and Only Passing Through: The Story of Sojourner Truth. She collaborated on several books with her husband Harlow Rockwell including Sally's Caterpillar and The Toolbox. After her husband's death, she collaborated with her daughter Lizzy Rockwell. Their books included Career Day and Zoo Day. She died of natural causes on April 10, 2018 at the age of 85.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 5

Publisher's Weekly Review

The team behind One Bean and Pumpkin Day, Pumpkin Night join up for a lesson on metamorphosis in Becoming Butterflies by Anne Rockwell, illus. by Megan Halsey. Cut-paper collage creates a three-dimensional effect in Miss Dana's classroom; the students' pictures record the chrysalis stage and the butterflies' emergence. Front endpapers label different caterpillars, while the back endpapers picture the butterflies they become, labeled with common and scientific names. (Mar.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Horn Book Review

Monarch butterfly development is explored by an elementary school class. The direct text explains metamorphosis as the students make observations and drawings, ask questions, and learn from one another. An appended authorÆs note explains the process more fully. The pale watercolors are engaging but don't provide much detail. From HORN BOOK Fall 2002, (c) Copyright 2010. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Booklist Review

Ages 4-7. Armed with three caterpillars and a flowerpot of milkweed, Miss Dana engages her class in a project: watching caterpillars become monarch butterflies. A personable student describes what happens--from feeding the caterpillars and the building of the chrysalis to the butterflies' hatching and release. The project continues as the students correspond with students in Mexico, where most monarch butterflies traditionally migrate. Metamorphosis information is presented in an age-appropriate way. Children will easily relate to the narrator's lively descriptions and youthful perspective («ick!»), as well as to the impatience and their wonder as the beautiful butterflies finally appear. Cheerful watercolor and collage art, figurative though simplistic, nicely captures both the process and kids' reactions. An endnote briefly discusses monarchs, and there's a Web site address where more information can be found. The endpapers are labeled drawings of other types of butterflies and their corresponding caterpillars. An accessible introduction to an intriguing classroom or home project. Shelle Rosenfeld.

School Library Journal Review

PreS-Gr 2-Every preschool or primary teacher who orders a brown box of live caterpillars will want to read this book aloud. When his teacher brings three monarch caterpillars and a milkweed plant to class, the young narrator follows their transformation with the same questions and concerns of young students in any classroom. His multicultural classmates track the changes in the caterpillars through drawings, and sadly wave good-bye through the window as the butterflies fly away. Without an unnecessary word of explanation, the text makes clear the science of metamorphosis, and leavens the story with the humor of the children's comments. The illustrations are watercolors with pieces of cut paper layered to give depth. They are childlike without being primitive and give fine support for the scientific observation. An endnote offers more details for adults and a Web site, and clever endpapers show the caterpillars of others species at the front of the book and their butterflies at the back. Amid the many books on the topic, this one is a standout for the age group.-Ellen Heath, Orchard School, Ridgewood, NJ (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Kirkus Review

The creators of One Bear (1998) and Pumpkin Day, Pumpkin Night (1999) turn in another polished take on a perennial classroom science topic. After their teacher brings in a potted milkweed and a mail-order kit, a group of children watch three caterpillars eat, grow, form chrysalises, and emerge as monarch butterflies. Halsey's pictures, all neat lines and cheery faces, are constructed by layering cutout paper figures, for a low-relief effect that adds visual interest without compromising each scene's simplicity. After the butterflies are released, the children write to a class in Mexico, and get a letter, with a photo of a butterfly-covered twig, in return. Rockwell expands on the teacher's matter-of-fact explanations of what's going on at each stage with a helpful note, and Halsey depicts ten other named, common butterflies, both in mature and caterpillar form, on the endpapers. Though not detailed enough to be an instruction manual, this is good to go for general background reading, nutritious fodder for newly hatched lepidopterists, or as a storytime prelude to Sam Swope's infectious Gotta Go! Gotta Go! (2000). (Picture book nonfiction. 5-7)

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