Butterfly Eyes and Other Secrets of the Meadow

Butterfly Eyes and Other Secrets of the Meadow

Joyce Sidman, Author

Beth Krommes, Illustrator

Houghton Mifflin Company, Fiction, 2006

Suitable for: Ages 6 and up

Themes: Meadows, Science, Nature, Poetry

Opening/Synopsis:  “On calm, clear summer nights, the meadow cools down quickly.  Grasses, flowers, leaves, and even insects become cooler than the warm air around them. Just as it does on a cold can of soda pop, water vapor in the air condenses on those cool surfaces, forming dew.  Then, as dawn comes and the sun touches them, the dew drops evaporate back into the air.”  Written in both verse and prose, this is story of a living and breathing meadow that is dependent and connected to life, and is constantly changing.  There are beautiful poems about the awakening meadow, the animal life, birds and insects, the flowering plants and grasses that offer a feeding frenzy for all, and trees that provide shade.   Children are taken on a journey into the meadow from sunrise to sunset.  Each poem brings science to life.  The poems vary from mysterious and captivating, to silly and magical.

What I like about this book:  Both author and illustrator fell in love with meadows as young children and found them enchanting. Joyce Sidman has written such a magical book, alternating between double spreads of verse and prose that add interesting  science details about how life coexists in the meadow.  Children will find that each poem is a riddle to solve about butterflies, snakes, rabbits, fox and deer.  The text that follows provides the answers and interesting facts.  Krommes illustrations are a feast for the eyes.  Each illustration is made by a scratchboard technique that is rich and colorful.  Children will enjoy studying every detail on the page.  With Earth Day April 22, and Poetry Month in April, I found this book a lovely celebration of both.  The author and illustrator have also released a book in 2011, Swirl by Swirl: Spirals in Nature.

Activities:  Since this is Earth Day weekend, it would be a nice time for a spring outing with your child.   Visit a meadow in your area.   Many local Park and Recreation Divisions, and Nature Preserves provide guided tours and  programs.   Let you child hunt for treasures that they can take home and make a collage of their own meadow as an earth day contribution.  For Earth Day resources, click on this Earth Day link .

To see a complete listing of all the Perfect Picture Books with resources, please visit author Susanna Leonard Hill’s Perfect Picture Books.  Or click on the Perfect Picture Book Fridays  badge in the right sidebar.

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About Patricia Tiltonhttp://childrensbooksheal.wordpress.comI want "Children's Books Heal" to be a resource for parents, grandparents, teachers and school counselors. My goal is to share books on a wide range of topics that have a healing impact on children who are facing challenges in their lives. If you are looking for good books on grief, autism, visual and hearing impairments, special needs, diversity, bullying, military families and social justice issues, you've come to the right place. I also share books that encourage art, imagination and creativity. I am always searching for those special gems to share with you. If you have a suggestion, please let me know.

38 thoughts on “Butterfly Eyes and Other Secrets of the Meadow

    • Thanks Niamh. It is a great book for the reasons I mentioned. I loved playing a meadow near my house as a child, so it was especially meaningful to me. And the poetry is beautiful!

    • Erik, thanks. I agree with you. I used to lay in tall grasses and watch the clouds pictures. Think this would be a perfect book to read in a meadow. I loved meadows as a kid.

  1. My daughter adores Earth Day. A few years ago she plastered handmade ‘Love The Earth” posters all over the neighborhood. I’m not sure the source of her terra-passion, but it sure was cute! She’d love this book. Thanks for featuring it!

  2. Whenever anyone stops by our shop for the first time, we give them an origami butterfly. On the wings is the phrase “If nothing ever changed, there wouldn’t be butterfiles.” Thanks for sharing this lovely book!

  3. I don’t have a child. However, I do remember when I was ten or so, my dad took me camping in Yellowstone Park. We came across a meadow that I thought looked magical. I got up especially early one morning to watch the sun rise and there were deer and a little bit of fog. I tried to imagine that this is what the entire earth might have looked like at one time before the rise of cities.

    • Michael, thank you for sharing your camping experience in Yellowstone Park and your imaging how the entire looked like the lush park. I too have camped in Yellowstone as a child (and many, many other national parks) and so you reminded me of a beautiful brook or stream that wound like a snake in a meadow. The image is still with me. We need these special places to remind us of what our country really looked like.

  4. I love the idea of the riddles. This is a great Earth Day book, Pat. Do you know that all the National Parks are free to visit in the US from 21-28 of April?

    • Kirstin, I just got back to answering my own comments. You are right, great mind think alike. You will love this one. Did you see the video of your book. I love her scratchboard illustrations. So beautiful.

  5. This is an interesting read, Pat. I love the pastel colors from the cover, and it’s certainly a treat to read about butterflies, among others. Where I live, there aren’t any meadows. Too “urbanized.” Whenever I see meadows, I think of flight and freedom. So nice to run around, plop on the grass, and greet the sun, without worrying about anything. The sight is both refreshing and invigorating. Perfect indeed for Earth Day weekend! :)

    • Emma, thank you for stopping. The book is stunning and a wonderful story for children on Earth Day! Have seen your name around. My husband is a Ward, his mother’s maiden name.

    • Catherine I really thought about you as I reviewed this one. You would love the poetry and prose together. It is absolutely beautiful and fun for kids! Kirsten happened to review the author’s latest book “Swirls,” today. Both are winnners.

  6. Excellent Earth Day choice. We live on a farm and we are huge on saving the earth and what God gave us. This book’s illustrations are beautiful. I can tell by the cover. Thank you so much for adding this very important book. :-)

  7. As a child I used to stay with my Nana alot during school holidays and she had a huge meadow or paddock as we would call it from her back yard and I would often climb the fence and take her small dog and go lying in the long grass where noone can see you and just stare at the clouds and daydream. I used to try and catch butterflies there also. Lovely memories those. Thanks Pat for this lovely book and for the memories.

    • Diane, sounds like we would have been great chums as kids, staring a clouds pictures, picking violets and chasing butterflies. Very similar memories. Thanks for your note.

  8. The art and story sound like a great combination. We are in the middle of a moth migration (invasion). I like the butterflies better.

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