The Girl Who Drew Butterflies: How Maia Merian's Art Changed Science
The Girl Who Drew Butterflies: How Maia Merian's Art Changed Science

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Annotation: Explores the extraordinary life and scientific discoveries of Maria Merian, who discovered the truth about metamorphosis and documented the science behind it. Features many original paintings by Maria herself.
Genre: Biographies
Catalog Number: #150473
Format: Perma-Bound Edition from Publisher's Hardcover
All Formats: Search
Common Core/STEAM: Common Core Common Core
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin
Copyright Date: 2018
Edition Date: c2018
Pages: 120 p.
Availability: Available
ISBN: Publisher: 0-544-71713-9 Perma-Bound: 0-605-99631-8
ISBN 13: Publisher: 978-0-544-71713-8 Perma-Bound: 978-0-605-99631-1
Dewey: 921
LCCN: 2016057731
Dimensions: 24 cm.
Language: English
Reviews:
Horn Book
[add subjects: Environment--Ecology; Insects; Germany; Plants]Excellent reproductions of seventeenth-century German naturalist Merian's gorgeous--and groundbreaking--illustrations of butterflies and moths let readers appreciate their accurate scientific detail and artistry. Merian's biography is told in twelve chapters titled with butterfly life-cycle stages, and Sidman's accompanying photographs illustrate each stage. The book includes numerous excerpts from Merian's journals, historical illustrations, and maps. Reading list, timeline. Bib., glos., ind.
Publishers Weekly
Spreads splashed with vibrant, eye-catching paintings of insects and flowers help tell the story of 17th-century German trailblazer Maria Merian. Eschewing the mores of her time, she became a leading botanical artist, naturalist, and (possibly) the world-s first ecologist, as she depicted insects-in all their developmental stages-alongside their botanical food sources and helped establish the idea that butterflies and moths come from caterpillars. Sidman (Round) punctuates a well-researched, engaging narrative (-She had the curiosity of a true scientist, the patience it took to raise insects, and the superb artistic skill necessary to share her observations-) with excerpts from Merian-s journals to bring the courageous artist-s own voice into the mix. Eclectic sidebars contextualize the biography (one discusses witch hunts of the era), along with archival images, maps, and full-color photographs. Stages of butterfly metamorphosis (accompanied by a trademark Sidman nature poem) serve as fitting chapter headings and mirror the stages of Merian-s life; a chapter titled -Flight- focuses on her groundbreaking research trip to Surinam. An author-s note, timeline, bibliography, and index conclude this beautifully designed and expansive portrait of a gifted boundary breaker. Ages 10-12. (Feb.)

School Library Journal Starred Review
Gr 58 Under the tutelage of her stepfather, artist Jacob Marrel, young teen Maria Sibylla Merian developed her artistic talent and found ways to combine it with her interest and careful observation of caterpillars, moths, and butterflies. In Germany, the Netherlands, and Suriname, from about 1660 to 1710, Merian (some paintings use her married name of Graff) moved from more traditional "lady artist" subjects such as flowers, to depicting the life cycles and habitats of caterpillars, moths, butterflies, spiders, insects, and the natural struggle for survival. At a time when many believed in the spontaneous generation of flying insects, Merian's meticulous observations allowed her to document that eggs became caterpillars which then transformed into butterflies or moths. Sidman starts each chapter with a verse, otherwise telling the story through narrative with ample photographs, etchings, maps, paintings, and reproductions of Merian's botanical art throughout. In pages of boxed text, readers learn a bit about topics that influenced Merian's life, such as printing processes, religion in the 1600s, and slavery in Suriname. The butterfly life cycle, from egg to maturity, was an endless source of inspiration, and is at the center of many of her paintings. The thorough back matter will aid in classroom use. VERDICT An excellent choice for young artists, budding scientists, fledgling entomologists, and fans of biography. Maggie Knapp, Trinity Valley Sch., Fort Worth, TX
Starred Review for Kirkus Reviews
The remarkable contributions of Maria Sibylla Merian, a 17th-century self-taught artist and the first person to document the metamorphosis of the butterfly, are not as well-known as those of John James Audubon, Charles Darwin, and Carl Linnaeus, but her discoveries preceded and influenced those later naturalists.At a time when the most learned adhered to the Aristotelian theory of "spontaneous generation," that insects came from "dew, dung, dead animals, or mud" and were "beasts of the Devil," Merian was convinced otherwise. Captivated by the mysterious lives of insects, she wanted to know where they came from. Flouting the conventions of the time to pursue her passion for insects made Merian's life difficult, but she never allowed adversity to interfere with her dogged pursuit of knowledge. Travelers' stories inspired her to take an arduous journey to the Dutch colony of Surinam to observe, document, and collect exotic species. With techniques learned from her stepfather, Merian became an accomplished artist, rendering in beautiful, extraordinary detail the intricacies of caterpillars, flies, moths, butterflies, and other insects. She recorded her keen observations in a research journal and published three books about her discoveries. This fascinating account of Merian's life and work is beautifully designed and embellished with both Sidman's photographs of what Merian studied and images of her artwork. Informative captions identify and connect each image's relevance to Merian's life and work.An exceptionally crafted visual biography of a pioneering entomologist and naturalist who lived a life devoted to discovery. (glossary, timeline, source notes, bibliography, further reading) (Biography. 9-12)
Starred Review ALA Booklist
*Starred Review* Considered by many to be the world's first ecologist, Maria Merian broke ground through her meticulous observations of insects and beautiful depictions of them within their natural habitats. Born in seventeenth-century Germany, Maria was the daughter of famed engraver and printer Matthäus Merian and stepdaughter to a successful still-life painter, allowing her to study both art and nature from a young age. Sidman's writing radiates Maria's passion and curiosity for the natural world, and it is as absorbing as fiction. As Maria's primary interest was in caterpillars e worked diligently to discover their origins and connection to moths and butterflies, charmingly called "summer birds" dman begins her book with a glossary of butterfly terminology and later reveals how Maria became the first person to discover and present the complete life cycle of these insects. Colored inserts give further historical and cultural context to Maria's life, noting such things as the limitations placed on women during the seventeenth century and how the era's curiosity cabinets lead to the creation of museums. A fantastic array of illustrations embellishes the text with photos of butterflies, caterpillars, and chrysalises, and lovely images of Maria's artwork and that of her father's and stepfather's. Meanwhile, exceptional captions identify and establish each illustration's relevance to Maria's life. A vibrant, wonderfully rounded biography on a pioneering and prodigiously talented woman.
Bibliography Index/Note: Includes bibliographical references (p. 129-136) and index.
Word Count: 12,720
Reading Level: 7.7
Interest Level: 5-9
Accelerated Reader: reading level: 7.7 / points: 2.0 / quiz: 196200 / grade: Middle Grades
Reading Counts!: reading level:10.5 / points:6.0 / quiz:Q71142
Lexile: 1110L

Robert F. Sibert Medal winner Bugs, of all kinds, were considered to be "born of mud" and to be "beasts of the devil." Why would anyone, let alone a girl, want to study and observe them? One of the first naturalists to observe live insects directly, Maria Sibylla Merian was also one of the first to document the metamorphosis of the butterfly. In this visual nonfiction biography, richly illustrated throughout with full-color original paintings by Merian herself, the Newbery Honor-winning author Joyce Sidman paints her own picture of one of the first female entomologists and a woman who flouted convention in the pursuit of knowledge and her passion forinsects. Booklist Editor's Choice Chicago Public Library Best of 2018 Kirkus Best book of 2018 2018 Bulletin Blue Ribbon Book Junior Library Guild Selection New York Public Library Top 10 Best Books of 2018


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