The best butterfly books

4 authors have picked their favorite books about butterflies and why they recommend each book.

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Butterfly Isles

By Patrick Barkham,

Book cover of Butterfly Isles: A Summer in Search of Our Emperors and Admirals

This book is a classic natural history quest: Patrick Barkham tries to find all the butterfly species in Britain and Ireland in one summer. It explores our age-old relationship with these fantastic insects, the eccentricities of the butterfly watcher's world, and the author’s adventures along the way, all tied together by the challenge he’s set himself. This is a really entertaining book and brilliantly captures the butterfly obsession, offering an excellent portrayal of what makes butterfly watchers tick.


Who am I?

I'm a writer and a botanist with a lifelong interest in nature. I grew up in southern England where I spent my time running around the fields and woods searching for birds, insects and wild plants (as one does). As well as writing about nature, I run plant identification training courses and have a genetics PhD.


I wrote...

The Orchid Hunter: A Young Botanist's Search for Happiness

By Leif Bersweden,

Book cover of The Orchid Hunter: A Young Botanist's Search for Happiness

What is my book about?

In the summer after leaving school, a young botanist sets out to fulfill a childhood dream--to find every species of orchid native to the British Isles. He has just a few months to complete his quest, which no one has ever done before within one growing season, and it will require ingenuity, stamina and a large dose of luck. As he battles the vagaries of the British climate, feverishly chasing each emerging bloom, Leif Bersweden takes the reader on a remarkable botanical journey. This study of the 52 native species is a fantastic gateway into the compendious world of orchids, and one that will open your eyes to the rare hidden delights to be found on our doorstep. Includes an essential guide to finding all 52 British orchids.

The Very Hungry Caterpillar

By Eric Carle,

Book cover of The Very Hungry Caterpillar

A beloved classic picture book about a very hungry caterpillar who (spoiler alert) nourishes his way to becoming a beautiful butterfly. It’s a simple but compelling story of transformation, told with elegance and humour  - and a total joy for very young children. The very specific list of food (apple, pears, plums, strawberries, oranges, chocolate cake, cherry pie) makes it an immersive close-up experience. From the very start ("In the light of the moon, a little egg sat on a leaf.") its words and pictures are vivid and enchanting. A read-aloud delight full of texture, variety, and colour. 


Who am I?

I'm a novelist and academic with a passion for food. I’ve always been fascinated by people’s favourite recipes, their signature dishes, or the way they behave around food. (As a novelist, if I’m ever stuck with a story, thinking about food really helps to sharpen my understanding of a particular character or a setting.) To me, food is memory, belonging, connection. Most importantly, in a world that can be so unpredictable and chaotic, cooking food is such a soothing, knowable act. As Nora Ephron puts it: "…if you melt butter and add flour and then hot stock, it will get thick! It’s a sure thing! It’s a sure thing in a world where nothing is sure."


I wrote...

The Apple Tart of Hope

By Sarah Moore Fitzgerald,

Book cover of The Apple Tart of Hope

What is my book about?

Oscar Dunleavy, who used to make the world's most perfect apple tarts, is missing, presumed dead. No one seems too surprised, except for Meg, his best friend, and his little brother Stevie. Surrounded by grief and confusion, Meg and Stevie are determined to find out what happened to Oscar, and together they learn about loyalty and friendship, the power of never giving up hope and the magic of perfectly baked, homemade apple tarts.

Butterfly House

By Eve Bunting, Greg Shed (illustrator),

Book cover of Butterfly House

This is a gentle, lyrical story. This book inspires love. If you read it, you’ll feel the loving relationship the girl has with her grandfather...and with butterflies. You’ll wonder why the butterflies visit the girl once she’s grown up. What do the butterflies who visit her seem to know or sense? Why aren’t the butterflies visiting her neighbors?


Who am I?

I’m a former reading specialist/educational specialist who still enjoys reading aloud to students, helping kids learn to read, and introducing them to quality literature. I love reading picture books...and I write them to entertain and empower kids.


I wrote...

The Thingity-Jig

By Kathleen Doherty, Kristyna Litten (illustrator),

Book cover of The Thingity-Jig

What is my book about?

Under the light of a silvery moon, inquisitive Bear ventures into People Town, where he makes quite the curious discovery. What is this? A springy thing—a bouncy thing—a sit-on-it, jump-on-it thing!

This Thingity-Jig is way too heavy to bring back to the woods by himself, however, so Bear runs home to tell his friends. But nobody wants to get out of bed to help! So Bear invents a Rolly-Rumpity to wheel the Thingity-Jig home, and then it all gets stuck in the mud. How will Bear tackle this bump in the road? With a Lifty-Uppity, of course! 

Butterflies Belong Here

By Deborah Hopkinson, Meilo So (illustrator),

Book cover of Butterflies Belong Here: A Story of One Idea, Thirty Kids, and a World of Butterflies

This past year, I have been fascinated by butterflies, and especially the monarchs and their utterly magnificent flights of migration. But there are other books about monarch butterflies, so why this one? It is a story, fictitious admittedly, about how a group of children with passion and love for nature and butterflies face a growing problem using grassroots activism. It is based on what children and communities are doing to help butterflies all over the country and on the real issue of the decline of the monarch butterfly. It is sure to inspire the budding environmental activist.


Who am I?

My love for wildlife has produced several award-winning nonfiction books about animals for children (bats, lizards, dragonflies, hummingbirds, and more). To observe wildlife, I travel often to wild areas, such as the Amazon, Galapagos Island, the Pantanal. A former full professor at Miami Dade College, I taught Creative Writing, English Composition, and Survey of Children’s Literature and was an adviser to the college’s award-winning literary magazine. My children’s nonfiction picture books about wild animals have won several awards: Silver Eureka for nonfiction, Silver Nautilus, two Bronze Florida Book Awards, and a Purple Dragonfly honor. Born in Brazil, I have lived in Miami for most of my life.


I wrote...

Python Catchers: Saving the Everglades

By Marta Magellan, Mauro Magellan (illustrator),

Book cover of Python Catchers: Saving the Everglades

What is my book about?

Burmese Pythons, escaped or released when they became too big for their owners, are taking over the Everglades. They’ve already eaten most of the small mammals in Everglades National Park.

An easy-to-read, colorful, and entertaining natural history, Python Catchers is told through the eyes of a clever wood stork and curious marsh rabbit. The plight of native species and their habitats comes alive for younger readers in this illustrated volume for children 4-9 years old. It offers detailed information on the damage the pythons are causing, the risks they pose to other animals, and a lively story to inspire young conservationists. Information on what readers can do to prevent the introduction of invasive species, the laws about exotic pets, a comprehensive glossary, and a list of resources are also included.

Pioneer Species

By Ross Thurber,

Book cover of Pioneer Species

Pioneer Species is a book of poems by friend and farmer-poet Ross Thurber. A small vineyard I work with in southern Vermont, my own agricultural essay and investigation on a sense of place different than my own, is part of Ross’s Lilac Ridge Farm. Like Mary Oliver, Ross is intensely bound to the natural and cultivated world of his farm in which he lives and his poems capture a language that brings forward the light, the shadow, the fog, the till, the butterfly, the flower, the cow. I am constantly inspired by his poems to be out in my own fields and to contemplate and communicate my own place in them. A delicious collection about a deeply personal and lyrical view of farm life.

Who am I?

I am a winegrower, farmer, writer, photographer, and pop-upeuse. I fell in love with food and wine while living and working in Italy, then returned stateside to create an homage to the people and place that embraced us and taught us so much. That endeavor--the restaurant osteria pane e salute opened with my chef husband Caleb Barber—was where I curated the wine program and became passionate about wines farmed artfully. I began working as a winegrower in 2007, a personal landscape experiment that led me down the rabbit hole of growing and making wine from hybrid varieties focused on regenerative viticulture and low intervention winemaking.


I wrote...

An Unlikely Vineyard: The Education of a Farmer and Her Quest for Terroir

By Deirdre Heekin,

Book cover of An Unlikely Vineyard: The Education of a Farmer and Her Quest for Terroir

What is my book about?

Against all odds, I planted vines on my hillside farm in Vermont believing that what I was embarking on was a small experimental and personal project about growing natural wine in the fringe wine region of Vermont. What happened instead was the blossoming of a vineyard that has become one of the most creative projects in American wine. An Unlikely Vineyard tells the story of our farm and winery, our kitchen and table, from overgrown fields to a fertile, productive, and beautiful landscape that melds with its natural environment.

We wanted to create, or rediscover, a true sense of place using the philosophy and techniques gleaned from organic gardening, permaculture, and regenerative farming. Written as a joyful and inspiring narrative that celebrates wine, food, farms, and connecting with the landscape.

By The River

By Steven Herrick,

Book cover of By The River

This story’s protagonist is a caring, trustworthy, thoughtful young man. Harry’s life holds its share of loss. His loving dad is raising two boys alone because their mother has died. My heart both bled and soared as I watched Harry, a deep-thinking soul, make sense of the world. His tale holds timeless flavours of the past sprinkled with plenty of honesty.

Free verse delivers so much story in very few words. Each verse is a poem that stands alone and, besides reading from start to finish, I often dip into it in random places to enjoy glimpses into the heart of a wonderful male role model. It’s no wonder that the United States Board on Books for Young People placed it on their Outstanding International Book List.


Who am I?

Working in schools, I was surrounded by young people facing challenges and finding their place in the world. Their lives were affected by various relationships, family, and their own personalities. I thrived on their energy and was privileged when they shared their stories, hopes, fears, and uncertainties. I witnessed hearts captured by young love that wasn’t always returned and marvelled at how those without good family support still managed to stay true to themselves no matter what life threw at them. Thank goodness for human resilience. I’m no poet but enjoy language and using poetic devices. I became a writer when teen characters insisted that I give voice to their stories.


I wrote...

Out of This Place

By Emma Cameron,

Book cover of Out of This Place

What is my book about?

Finding your way in life can be hard, especially without the right people around you. Out of This Place presents teens Luke, Casey, and Bongo at a major life crossroad. They’re looking for change and want to escape. Where they end up is determined not only by circumstances but also by their choices. Their overlapping stories are delivered in free verse.

I didn’t make a conscious choice to write it this way. It was simply how Luke spoke to me. His voice crept into my head as a monologue. I enjoy writing in this style as it causes readers to pause in particular places so as to immerse them in the mood and situation more readily than the words otherwise would. Though not considered poetry, this form lends itself to performance.

Amazing Matilda

By Bette A. Stevens,

Book cover of Amazing Matilda: A Monarch's Tale

This is a brilliant tale about a little egg that becomes a caterpillar and transforms into a beautiful Monarch.

I love animal stories, so I would always recommend this story to anyone.

He is asking his friends eating away on juice leaves, the sparrow, the toat, and the rabbit how he could get wings. He wanted desperately to fly.

The answer was: Just have patience and follow your instincts.

Matilda was doing so until she ate so many leaves that she changed once more and fell asleep. Waking up, she was amazed to see that she had wings. But they wouldn’t work, she had to keep flapping them until, finally, she flew off.

Matilda is not only a little butterfly story, it shows you that whatever you are going to do, have patience, follow your dream or instincts, and never give up.


Who am I?

After being rejected in school, because I had to move with my family again and again, I never had really friends and knew how being left alone and rejected felt. So I put my nose into books and developed a love for writing. Since I didn’t know what to do with them, I left them alone when I married. After being diagnosed with cancer later in my life, I couldn’t go back to work, I remembered my love to write and read so I started to write short stories again. I want to help young people going through similar rejections and bullying, to lift them up, and take the negativity out of their minds. 


I wrote...

Talon, Come Fly with Me: Inspirational Story about Adventure and Growth

By Gigi Sedlmayer,

Book cover of Talon, Come Fly with Me: Inspirational Story about Adventure and Growth

What is my book about?

An Australian girl living in Peru with her missionary parents, high up in the great Andes, was rejected by the locals because she has an affliction they don't understand. But when she made friends with a pair of great Condors, and saved their egg from poachers, everything turned around. She had to learn, what she can do to overcome her affliction and become the one, she was meant to be. 

An inspirational, highly emotional, and entertaining read for all ages. Matica, the heroine, is a strong, brave girl, who battles with her handicap and how others view her. But this isn’t a story only about her gaining acceptance or overcoming her challenges. Rather, it’s a tale packed full of exciting moments and tons of emotions.

Asher

By Carian Cole,

Book cover of Asher

I love Carian Cole’s books. She writes the most beautifully emotional rock star romances, and the final book in her Ashes and Embers series is an unapologetic tear-jerker. This book asks the question: if two soulmates meet and fall in love, and then tragedy fundamentally changes one of them, are they still soul mates? The answer Carian Cole provides is a breathtakingly romantic story that will make you believe in true love that lasts forever. The fact that Asher is a sexy rockstar who could make anyone swoon is absolutely the icing on the cake.


Who am I?

I’ve always adored romance books—there’s nothing like the thrill of meeting characters that you know you’re going to fall in love with just as much as they’re going to fall in love with each other. I didn’t start out intending to write about rock stars. But when I was sitting down in front of that first blank screen looking for inspiration, it was a rock star that took shape in my mind. There is something so inherently appealing about the artistic, tortured souls of musicians. Relationships in the spotlight come with very special challenges, and I love exploring how characters navigate these while still developing passionate, soul-deep emotional bonds.


I wrote...

Fractured Hearts: A Fractured Rock Star Romance

By L.M. Dalgleish,

Book cover of Fractured Hearts: A Fractured Rock Star Romance

What is my book about?

After Lexie Daniels joins Fractured’s tour as their official photographer, she’s shocked by the desire the band’s gorgeous lead singer awakens in her—something she hasn’t experienced since losing her husband. Connor Byrne’s a playboy with no interest in love, and the last person in the world she should be drawn to, but one night with him might be exactly what she needs to bring her body back to life.

Except, there's more to the man behind the rock star than she thought, and one night isn’t enough for either of them. But Lexie can’t afford to give her still-healing heart to a man as out of reach as Connor. Because an already fractured thing is fragile—another break, and it might be shattered forever.

Mists of the Serengeti

By Leylah Attar,

Book cover of Mists of the Serengeti

Once in Africa, I got my @ss handed to me by a king…” That’s a direct quote from my review, and it will make a lot more sense once you’ve read the book. Jack is the epitome of the tortured hero—angry, terse, godawful at times—but you accept it because, Oh my God! Think of what he’s suffered! And then you get to that part where said hero begins to soften toward the heroine and shut up! This book absolutely gutted me, and the pain was physical. No, seriously. My chest and stomach literally ached. I felt tingly, overheated, exhausted, and drained. And that was just from the prologue! 


Who am I?

The tortured hero was my first love, and I’ve never been able to shake him. He never fails to crush me, and there’s nothing more rewarding to a masochistic reader than being completely annihilated, then put back together again. These heartbroken heartbreakers are easy to love (usually), easy to forgive (hopefully), and always keep you coming back for more (definitely). My character, Darian, was born of my search for the perfect tortured hero, and although I’ve moved on to a different kind of hero for my follow-up novel, Magnolia May, he’ll forever own my heart.  


I wrote...

Waiting for the Sun: Waiting for the Sun

By Robin Hill,

Book cover of Waiting for the Sun: Waiting for the Sun

What is my book about?

Francesca’s a grieving daughter who promised her late father she’d come out of her shell. Darian’s a grieving widower, content to remain in his. When the lonely pair meet by chance at an Austin, Texas music festival, they find solace in each other’s company. What follows is an unexpected friendship…and the toll it takes when the lines begin to blur.

Waiting for the Sun is an angsty, emotional friends-to-lovers romance about what happens when love finds you after loss—whether you’re open to it or not.

Wemberly Worried

By Kevin Henkes,

Book cover of Wemberly Worried

Anxiety is a tricky thing, and Wemberly Worried illustrates all its various peculiarities. For instance, Wemberly, a world-class worrier, worries that there will be too many butterflies in the neighborhood parade. But then, when it turns out she’s the only butterfly in the neighborhood parade, she worries about that. The only thing that seems to steady her nerves is her adorable toy rabbit, Petal. When Wemberly shows up on her first day of school, her worries lessen when she meets another little girl mouse who has a toy just like Petal. 

While Wemberly is a mouse, this story is very relatable for little boy and girl worriers everywhere. It’s absolutely perfect for those first day of school jitters.


Who am I?

I love this letter that I received from a child reader: Ahoy Ms. Crimi! Your book Henry and the Crazed Chicken Pirates made me think of myself because the character Henry is really shy and cowardly, kind of like me sometimes. But I put all that aside and come around in the most sincere moments. Like this young reader, I, too, have my cowardly moments. I was definitely Piglet in Winnie the Pooh! Perhaps this is why so many of my books involve fearful characters. It’s a character trait that I relate to all too easily. Writing about my fears gives me some insight to them and, hopefully, it helps my readers as well.


I wrote...

There Might Be Lobsters

By Carolyn Crimi, Laurel Molk (illustrator),

Book cover of There Might Be Lobsters

What is my book about?

Suki is a very small dog who is afraid of pretty much everything at the beach—waves, beach balls, lifeguards, and, of course, lobsters. But when Suki’s very best toy, Chunka Munka, starts floating out to sea, Suki must act bravely and quickly in order to save him.

I got the idea for this book from my own small and fearful dog, Emerson. I took him to the dog beach in town every afternoon until one day a three-inch-tall wave knocked him over. He never liked the beach after that. The only thing he would do is sit in a stranger’s lap, so I figured he could easily just sit in my lap at home without having to pay for the dog beach.

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