Look to the Skies

Authored by Hannah Tolson
Illustrated by Nicola Edwards
Published by Little Tiger

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This rhyming picture book asks young readers in early years to wonder and marvel at the phenomenon of the migration of monarch butterflies across North America. Little fingers will enjoy poking through the butterfly shaped holes which continue through the book as frames for different sized butterflies. Readers will find out something about Mexico and North America, particularly from the bold, brightly coloured double page spreads showing the butterflies’ migration over fields, lakes, suburbs, forests from spring and summer to autumn until winter sets in and the monarchs return over the Mexican deserts to the ancient fir forests that are their winter home. There are many details in the images that young readers will enjoy spotting: an unusual bird on a tree; quirky notices in the city scape; a reindeer browsing in a field; different kites blowing in the wind and densely packed images of monarchs on the end papers give a sense of an impressive sight when seen in their thousands.

A double page spread at the end of the book with a schematic map of North America gives some factual detail showing the migration route of the butterflies, the importance of conservation both of the forests where they breed and the milkweed that is their food, and the fact that it can take up to five generations of monarch butterflies breeding on their migration route to complete the journey from south to north.

Most of the appeal of the book lies in the images which add more to the overall message as there is nothing in the body of the text that mentions the need for conservation. The text focuses on the awe and wonder of the butterflies – and that’s no bad thing – but I wonder if the rhyming couplets throughout, which felt a little contrived at times, may have restricted the breadth of what the text could offer a young reader.

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