What an amazing book! I learned so much about things that I never really much had an interest in……….bugs, caterpillars, and butterflies. Of course, I like butterflies. Who doesn’t? But to say I’m interested in entomology would be a stretch. But that is what is so great about this book. You don’t have to be interested in entomology to learn what a wonderful woman in history Maria Merian was.
I stumbled across this book in my library as I was cutting through the juvenile section to go to another section. I only saw the spine of the book which caught my eye. As you can see from my main photo at the top the hardcover is designed to look like a brown leather book with gold embossing. There is an actual dust jacket to the book that is beautiful as well but I didn’t know that until I looked it up on bookshop.org to put the link above. My library had removed the dust jacket. I’m definitely ordering the book to add to my collection of kids books.
One of the most fascinating gems of this book to me is the fact that she was such a pioneer in natural history/science and science artistry. Women during her time were not supposed to have professions. She also traveled from her native Germany where she was born in the mid-1600s to Suriname (South America). If you are familiar with naturalists in history then you would be interested to know that Mark Catesby and John James Audobon were inspired by her.
Although this book is categorized for grades 5-7 and ages 10-12 years it is definitely a book that an adult can read as it is in no way too juvenile. I had never heard of her before so the entire book was fascinating. But the most beautiful thing to me is the actual artistry of the book and its graphic design. From the photography taken by the author to the fonts used to the historical insets and Maria’s watercolor images placed throughout the book it is stunning from cover to cover. Well crafted and well written it makes me want to learn more about Maria!
Bugs, of all kinds, were considered to be “born of mud” and to be “beasts of the devil.” Why would anyone, let alone a girl, want to study and observe them? One of the first naturalists to observe live insects directly, Maria Sibylla Merian was also one of the first to document the metamorphosis of the butterfly. In this visual nonfiction biography, richly illustrated throughout with full-color original paintings by Merian herself, the Newbery Honor-winning author Joyce Sidman paints her own picture of one of the first female entomologists and a woman who flouted convention in the pursuit of knowledge and her passion for insects.
Robert F. Sibert Medal winner
Booklist Editor’s Choice
Chicago Public Library Best of 2018
Kirkus Best Book of 2018
2018 Bulletin Blue Ribbon Book
Junior Library Guild Selection
New York Public Library Top 10 Best Books of 2018