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Review of The Girl Who Drew Butterflies: How Maria Merian’s Art Changed Science

The Girl Who Drew Butterflies: How Maria Merian’s Art Changed Science
by Joyce Sidman; 
photos by the author
Intermediate    Houghton    140 pp.    g
2/18    978-0-544-71713-8    $17.99
e-book ed.  978-1-328-83028-9    $9.99

Sidman introduces readers to Maria Merian, a seventeenth-century German naturalist whose illustrations of the life cycles of butterflies and moths included groundbreaking scientific details, such as the inclusion of eggs in the insect life cycle and the portrayal of the ecological interdependence of plants and animals. Excellent reproductions of the gorgeous botanical prints allow readers to appreciate their accurate scientific detail and artistry. Merian’s story, from childhood through her often unconventional and adventurous adult life, is told in twelve chapters, each titled with a stage in a butterfly’s life cycle; photographs illustrating each of the butterfly stages were taken by the author, who was inspired to raise the creatures herself. Merian was a prolific diarist, and the inclusion of numerous excerpts from her journals, along with historical illustrations and maps, gives the reader glimpses into this period of history and of the talented women who lived in it. A timeline, a glossary, sources, additional readings, and an informative author’s note are included.

From the January/February 2018 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

Danielle J. Ford About Danielle J. Ford

Danielle J. Ford is a Horn Book reviewer and an associate professor of Science Education at the University of Delaware.

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