Children’s Reviews: Monarch Butterflies by Ann Hobbie and Olga Baumert & Starboy by Jami Gigot

More children’s titles on the review docket today! Thanks to the lovely folks at Thomas Allen & Son, I will first be talking about the stunning children’s non-fiction title Monarch Butterflies: Explore the Life Journey of One of the Winged Wonders of the World by Ann Hobbie, illustrated by Olga Baumert. Next, I will take a look at the beautiful Starboy: Inspired by the Life and Lyrics of David Bowie by Jami Gigot, thanks to friends at Raincoast Books. Happy reading, everyone!

Written by Ann Hobbie and illustrated by Olga Baumert, Monarch Butterflies: Explore the Life Journey of One of the Winged Wonders of the World is a large-format children’s non-fiction title that takes readers on a fascinating, informational and gorgeously illustrated deep dive into the life and world of monarch butterflies. Opening with a look at the life cycle of the monarch butterfly, which “begins with a tiny white egg hidden on the underside of a leaf”, Monarch Butterflies takes readers on a step-by-step, highly visual, and clearly marked journey through everything monarch butterfly. Readers see up-close details regarding the anatomy of a caterpillar, chrysalis and butterfly (and the stages of metamorphosis); as well as a short study of their diet of milkweed. The book also denotes the difference between summer butterflies (which have a much shorter lifespan) and monarchs born in late summer, who “live for up to nine months” and “migrate south for winter”. Hobbie, accompanied by Baumert’s truly incredible naturalistic illustrations, then details the migration journey of the eastern late summer butterflies to “Mexico’s transvolcanic mountain range”; types of flower nectar consumed; roosting locations; and their final journey back to the north. Readers also learn about the different target migration spots of western versus eastern butterflies, as well as the severe threats- including predators, human-borne destruction of habitat, and pesticides- facing monarch butterflies. Ending on a realistic yet encouraging note regarding the interconnectedness of species, Monarch Butterflies also provides readers with a number of extra materials. Interested readers can: learn about building monarch habitats; how to become a ‘citizen scientist’; how to support organizations that help monarch butterflies (list and links included); as well as steps on “how to rear a monarch butterfly”. Outstanding illustrations by Olga Baumert coupled with Ann Hobbie’s clear, accessible and engaging delivery makes this title a real standout. Wonderfully presented, thorough and readable, Monarch Butterflies is excellent children’s non-fiction that can be enjoyed, reread and appreciated by all ages. Notes: More back matter includes “Fun Facts”, a glossary, and more research links for further investigation

From Monarch Butterflies: Explore the Life Journey of One of the Winged Wonders of the World, written by Ann Hobbie, illustrated by Olga Baumert. Spread courtesy of Thomas Allen & Son website.

“When David heard this star chatter, his entire body would vibrate with far-out energy. His eyes would FLASH. His legs would SHIMMY-SHAKE, and all ten toes would TIP-TAP. As David danced, he felt connected to the universe and the rhythm of the stars. If only he could share this feeling with someone else.” Jami Gigot, the Vancouver-based author and illustrator of titles such as Seb and the Sun, and Mae and the Moon, brings readers Starboy: Inspired by the Life and Lyrics of David Bowie. A glimpse inside an imagined part of young David Bowie’s life, Starboy tells readers about the intrinsically rhythmic, musical, unique, and ethereal David Bowie. Readers are also shown that, due to his singular musical affinity and connection to the universe humming around him, a young David could also feel quite lonely: while David liked to add “a FLASH of color wherever he went and let his imagination run wild”… “some of the kids didn’t feel the same rhythm. They thought David was strange” and would laugh at him, asking what planet he was from. As Starboy tells us, however, although it was not easy, David does indeed keep listening to “the star chatter” and “rhythm of the stars”. When he feels brave enough to share “his discoveries” again with those around him, it ends up that those around him now share and feel the same joyful, inescapable “star energy” that he does. As a longtime listener and fan of the incomparable David Bowie- who as Gigot writes, “was an otherworldly talent [we were] lucky to have had…on planet Earth…”- I felt so much of the essence and exhilaration of Bowie’s music- Space Oddity and Aladdin Sane in particular- coursing through Starboy. Gigot’s illustrations, depicting a young David in school uniform and pajamas, to snapshots of David as “a pirate, a duke, an astronaut, a goblin king” (what would later become his well-known personas) are beautiful and fluid, culminating in a vibrant, rich spread (also featured on the cover!) featuring young David with Aladdin Sane’s signature bolt. A loving ode to arguably one of the greatest artists of all time, Starboy is a stirring and hopeful story about listening to ourselves and being courageous enough to follow and share the passions of our heart. Bonus: Back matter includes a beautifully warm and informative Note from the Author-Illustrator; Facts About David Bowie; and a Sources list. A special visual treat can also be found under the dusk jacket!

I received a copy of Monarch Butterlies courtesy of Thomas Allen & Son in exchange for an honest review. I received a copy of Starboy courtesy of Raincoast Books in exchange for an honest review. All opinions and comments are my own. Titles have been published and are currently available.

Author: michelle@fabbookreviews

Reference & Children's Librarian. Reader. Reviewer.

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