Recently, my five-year-old niece was gifted a butterfly chrysalis kit which afforded her the opportunity to observe baby caterpillars and their evolution into butterflies. To say she was mesmerised and in love with the natural world would be something of an understatement. The natural miracle of caterpillar to butterfly is beautifully told in this fabulous non-fiction narrative from the ever-dependable CSRIO Publishing.
A tiny caterpillar is about to hatch into the world. With many predators around, it will be difficult to survive alone and help will be needed. Blue has friends though, friends that need him as much as he needs them and working together, both will flourish. Soon, it will be time for Blue to leave his friends behind. There is something he needs to do, his time as a caterpillar is over but life as a butterfly is about to begin…
Life cycles are always a popular topic of conversation with children and feature on many primary school science curriculums, and I can see The Butterfly and the Ants becoming a firm favourite amongst teachers and learners. Written by Kate McCabe, an author with degrees in zoology and teaching and who works in education conservation, and illustrated by Nicole Berlach, trained in scientific illustration, this beautiful non-fiction narrative follows the life-cycle of a fabulous little caterpillar who evolves into the most majestic butterfly.
We first meet Blue, who is nothing more than a dot living inside a slightly larger white dot, on the underside of a leaf. As Blue emerges as a tiny caterpillar he could easily be gobbled up by a number of hungry predators or accidentally squashed by a giant shoe. Luckily, some much needed help is on hand to ensure Blue survives. Before our very eyes, the most wondrous of symbiotic relationships with some very attentive ants keeps Blue safe. The ants carry him to food, watch over him as he eats, share their home with him and keep him clean. In return, he offers special honey for them to eat. Symbiosis is not uncommon in the natural world and this is just one example of animals helping each other.
Readers will be captivated by Blue the caterpillar, who has the ability to turn the colour of the food that he eats, and will be fascinated by his final show-stopping act. As he carefully hides himself away inside a chrysalis, he gets ready to perform a trick that the world’s greatest magician would be proud of…disappearing as a caterpillar and emerging as the most beautiful butterfly. Blue’s transformation is complete and it is now his job to visit plants, enjoy their nectar and spread pollen to make new seeds so future generations of caterpillars can replicate his journey.
With its vibrant, eye-catching front cover and charming nature-themed endpapers, this wonderful true story is simply told, introduces readers to key scientific terminology and captures one of nature’s miracles. With a love for the natural world wriggling and fluttering off of every page, Blue the caterpillar come butterfly and his ant friends will capture the hearts and minds of many and is sure to provoke awe and wonder about nature. Back-matter includes further information about Blue and some of his winged relatives, and a glossary. Further resources can be found in the excellent teaching notes provided by the publisher.
With huge thanks to CSIRO Publishing for the copy I received in exchange for an honest review.
Recommended for 5+.