K-Gr 3-The familiar story of a child's awakening to the miracles of nature is convincingly told here. A little girl wonders why her grandfather doesn't uproot the stinging nettles in his garden. After he explains the weeds' importance to certain types of butterflies, he locates some of their eggs on the leaves and encourages her to watch what happens. The child patiently observes each stage of the insects' development, learning in the meantime about the characteristics and habits of various species. Finally, to her delight, she witnesses the emergence of a peacock butterfly from its chrysalis. The text clearly describes the insects' life cycle and competently conveys the warm relationship between the girl and her grandfather. Voake's pen-and-watercolor illustrations, however, are disappointingly drab. The nettles, dominant throughout, are rendered in pale olive green; the caterpillars, most of which are depicted from a distance, look more like prickly twigs than insects; and the characters, drawn with minimal facial features, are flat and unappealing. Additional information is provided in extended captions underneath the drawings, but the print is arranged in a series of curving lines and is hard to read. Joanne Ryder's Where Butterflies Grow (Lodestar, 1989) is a better choice for young readers; its text does an excellent job of describing the metamorphosis of a swallowtail butterfly, and the closeup, vibrant drawings of each developmental stage are outstanding.-Karey Wehner, San Francisco Public Library
A little girl watches caterpillars growing, first in her grandfather's garden and then on her windowsill. Through observation and Grandfather's answers to her questions, she learns firsthand about caterpillars' development and conveys to readers the wonder of it all. Written in first person, this picture book will captivate children who share the girl's love of nature and interest those who simply want to know what happens next. Simple in line and restrained in color, Voake's ink-and-watercolor artwork has an ingenuous quality that suits the story well. Written for the Read and Wonder series, this book will be in demand each spring when preschool and primary-grade teachers request books on the subject.