Posted by: ktzefr | October 4, 2012

Time for “Flight of the Butterflies”

“The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.” ~Lao Tzu

This morning I was at the right place at the right time.  A lone monarch butterfly was enjoying one of the last flowers on my butterfly bush.  My mom bought us this bush many years ago and  I think about her every spring when the first leaves sprout and the flowers bloom and the butterflies come.  I get a little sad this time of year when the monarchs leave, the hummingbirds disappear, and I discover the frog that lives in the ceramic pond is missing on the first chilly morning.  I know he has climbed back down the deck and dug in for the winter.  I find migrations fascinating.  “The monarch weighs less than a penny and makes one of the longest migrations on earth to a place it has never known” — from our back yards to the remote mountain peaks of Mexico.

Monarch Butterfly; Photo:KFawcett

 

Check it out!  This coming Saturday, October 5, “Flight of the Butterflies 3D” opens at the National Museum of Natural History in DC. 

A few weeks ago I was talking to a group of fifth graders about my book, To Come and Go Like Magic, and they were interested in the monarch butterflies on the cover.  What did they have to do with the story? 

I have always loved science, but I didn’t realize just how many scenes in the book refer to science and nature.  Lenny collects rocks and studies ants and trees; Willie Bright is surprised to learn that when he is looking at the stars he is looking back in time; Chili is fascinated by migrations — the monarchs, the ducks, the eels in the Sargasso Sea.  Her own desire to “migrate,” to leave the Appalachians behind and see the world, is always in the background.

The fifth graders were intrigued by migration and were eager to know more.  They love surprising facts and statistics and I was lucky that day as I had a bunch of great examples I could share from one of my favorite books about animals.  In Bats Sing, Mice Giggle: The Surprising Science of Animals’ Inner Lives the authors, Dr. Karen Shanor and Dr. Jagmeet Kanwal use the latest scientific research to reveal the secret lives of animals.  In addition to the monarch butterflies, a chapter devoted to migration considers these amazing creatures: the flying spider that travels hundreds of miles to take up residence on ships at sea or populate deserted islands; the Arctic tern that flies from the North Pole to the South Pole and back again every year; the spectacular yearly migration of millions of wildebeest across the Serengeti Plain, and many others that make that marathon trek by land, air, and/or sea.  

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