Review of The Monarchs of Winghaven

The Monarchs of Winghaven The Monarchs of Winghaven
by Naila Moreira
Intermediate    Walker US/Candlewick    320 pp.
5/24    9781536218305    $18.99
e-book ed.  9781536224689    $18.99

Poised between novel and information book, this story features Samantha, an eleven-year-old wildlife enthusiast who finds joy and excitement in a neglected natural area she christens Winghaven. An anxious new kid in town, she has to cope with a school bully and overly busy parents. Such conventional middle-grade plot elements pale beside crisp, detailed descriptions of the natural world—the particular mating flight of mourning doves, the ingenious sand traps of the antlion, a close-up of a muskrat lodge: “The mother muskrat reached out and pulled a plant to her mouth with one tiny, four-fingered black hand, drawing it to yellowed teeth.” Samantha and her new pal Bram, a photographer, brave the challenges of ticks, poison ivy, the slog of data collection, and adult cynicism to organize a campaign to save Winghaven from property developers, using a data-based argument involving the essential relationship between milkweed and the monarch butterfly. Samantha’s field notebook of observations and sketches provides a parallel narrative and could certainly inspire young citizen scientists and activists. Back matter includes “Notes for Young Naturalists,” with book recommendations and links to such projects as the Monarch Larva Monitoring Project.

Pubissue-From the March/April 2024 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

Sarah Ellis
Sarah Ellis is a Vancouver-based writer and critic, recently retired from the faculty of The Vermont College of Fine Arts.

Be the first reader to comment.

Comment Policy:
  • Be respectful, and do not attack the author, people mentioned in the article, or other commenters. Take on the idea, not the messenger.
  • Don't use obscene, profane, or vulgar language.
  • Stay on point. Comments that stray from the topic at hand may be deleted.
  • Comments may be republished in print, online, or other forms of media.
  • If you see something objectionable, please let us know. Once a comment has been flagged, a staff member will investigate.



We are currently offering this content for free. Sign up now to activate your personal profile, where you can save articles for future viewing.