Award-winning picture book AMAZING MATILDA is FREE from April 19-23 to CELEBRATE EARTH DAY! Download your FREE copy of AMAZING MATILDA: A Monarch’s Tale and share the gift of reading with the kids in your life http://www.amazon.com/Amazing-Matilda-ebook/dp/B00AU9ZISA/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1363893998&sr=1-1&keywords=amazing+matilda
Why, Oh Why, A Butterfly?
After I read AMAZING MATILDA to a group of students, the kids had excellent questions about writing, illustrating and publishing a book. They found out that research was essential for both the story and the illustrations. They also learned that this story was written, edited and rewritten many times. We talked about a story needing a plot (a beginning, a middle, an end and a problem to be solved). We had a chance to discuss some of the TOOLS in a WRITER’S TOOL BOX—consonance and assonance (repetitive consonant and vowel sounds that help to make reading fun), vocabulary, metaphors and similes, repetition. We also had the opportunity to discuss the story’s characters and the parts they played: AMAZING MATILDA (hatching from her egg as the story begins) dreams of flying SPARROW (a bird who encourages MATILDA to follow her instincts) “DON’T BIRDS EAT CATERPILLARS?” one of the students asked. That’s when we had the opportunity to talk about milkweed (the monarch caterpillar’s only food source). Milkweed gives the monarch’s their color and it is poisonous (not deadly poison, but it does make birds vomit so they learn to stay away from monarchs during any stage of life cycle development). TOAD and RABBIT (friends who hop up onto the ledge near MATILDA where they can see the whole world). These friends are not Matilda’s friends at first. They laugh hysterically at a creature who has no wings but wants to fly. But then, they remember that they couldn’t leap or hop onto this very ledge when they were younger. They had to keep trying— it took a lot of hard work and time (persistence and patience) before they could sit on top of the ledge and see the whole world anytime they pleased. (These characters gave the class a chance to talk about teasing and bullying.)Toad and Rabbit tell MATILDA all about their challenges and keep reminding her that if she keeps trying, she will be able to do all of the things that she really wanted to do.(Now we get to talk about friendship.)
So why did I choose a butterfly? MATILDA’S not just any butterfly—she’s a monarch butterfly! Monarch butterflies and other pollinators such as bees and hummingbirds are indicators of how healthy our environment is. The monarch, indigenous to The Americas, is the only butterfly species known to migrate. They travel from the Northern US and Canada to over-winter in California and Mexico and these magnificent creatures are disappearing at alarming rates. Why? There are many reasons for this decline:
• Current agricultural practice
• Genetically modified crops
• Pesticide use
• Loss of habitat
• Destruction of larval host plant by Roundup and other weed killers
Weed killers are a major concern since they are destroying the only food that monarch caterpillars will eat and they are also adversely affecting farm crops harvested for human consumption.
What can we do? Monarch butterflies are extremely resilient and their decline can be reversed. But, for that to happen, we’ve got to save the milkweed!
• Plant native milkweed
• Provide nectar plants
• Avoid pesticides
• Report your monarch observations
Find out more about protecting monarch butterflies and print out your FREE POSTER at http://www.learner.org/jnorth/tm/monarch/conservation_action.html
And don’t forget to visit my website to download your FREE FUN & LEARNING WITH MONARCHS (A companion piece that I put together for AMAZING MATILDA). You’ll find awesome links (See poster below) to Amazing Monarch facts, crafts, games, coloring pages, gardening tips, teachers’ guides and more at http://4writersandreaders.com/fun-learning-with-monarchs-2/