Bye-bye butterflies! By Andrew Larson. Illustrated by Jacqueline Hudone-Verelli. Book Review.


Charlie, a preschool child watches as numerous butterflies soar above the rooftop of the local school. He sees many hands waving goodbye and hears children calling out, “Bye-bye butterflies.” One child looks down at Charlie and his father and waves.

This event remains a mystery to Charlie until  he attends school himself. He discovers that each year children receive caterpillars. They feed them and watch them spin chrysalises. When they emerge as butterflies, they are released.

This is a lovely gentle story meant to encourage a love of nature. The pictures are composed of spaghetti arms and bobble heads with soft water colour and textured illustration. The relationship between the father and son, Charlie, who watch the initial butterfly release, is sweet. The story goes full circle because at the end Charlie is waving to a little boy who watches the butterflies release.

The back of the book has a selection of info boxes such as Are you a butterfly or are you a moth?  and So you want to be a butterfly scientist? as well as information on butterfly defense, the lifecycle, migration of the monarchs, and cool facts. Here the author refers to the chrysalis as a chrysalis while in the text itself it is called a cocoon. I prefer to use cocoon for moths and chrysalis for butterflies. That way there is no confusion for the children. A cocoon and a chrysalis are different.

 Chrysalis chrysalis-1354949_640

Cocoon (By Kerina yin at English Wikipedia (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons)


I thought I should provide some authority for my position so here is a quote from “Reference”

The chrysalis stage is also called the pupa stage, and is a phase of a butterfly or moth’s life between the larva stage, when the butterfly or moth is a caterpillar, and the adult stage. During this stage, butterflies form a chrysalis by secreting a hard protein shell around themselves. Moths on the other hand spin their cocoons out of a silk-like material. Butterflies can also secrete silk, but only enough to adhere themselves to the surface they make their chrysalis on.

I always thought growing a butterfly for release was a great activity to do with children until I researched it in 2006.

Here is information on that subject.

American Museum of Natural History

Butterfly Release: A Misguided Practice

Most butterfly farms sell only to exhibitions, educators and responsible collectors, who keep the adult butterflies in captivity. Breeding butterflies for release into the wild at special events poses serious risks to wild butterfly populations and is not endorsed by conservationists. (more)

As well

National Wildlife Federation

The National Wildlife Federation discourages releases of commercially obtained butterflies for a number of reasons, including:

Releasing butterflies can result in the possible introduction of species into areas where they are not native, possible carrying and spreading diseases at the same time.

Even if a species is native, a farmed population has a different genetic make-up than the population into which it is being introduced. This might result in negative effects on local populations.

Introductions are not the solution to dwindling butterfly populations. Habitat conservation and the elimination of pesticides from the food chain are better solutions.


Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife

Butterfly releases could unleash problems for state wildlife. (more)

As well, many of the larva die in shipment. Many others don’t make it to the butterfly stage. So this seems to be an example to me of well-meaning but uninformed people. I would suggest instead that you provide a butterfly house and plant milkweed for the monarchs in your schoolyard.

When writing for children, it is vital that your information be up-to-date and ethical. This book was published by Fitzhenry & Whiteside in 2012. I know this information was available because I researched it six years earlier.

Because of the environmentally erroneous actions portrayed in this book, I would not recommend it.


Bonnie Ferrante: Books For All Ages

Try one of these books instead. Click on the cover for information.



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