The Bug Girl: Maria Merian's Scientific Vision
The Bug Girl: Maria Merian's Scientific Vision
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Annotation: A biography about Maria Sibylla Merian, one of the first entomologists and scientific illustrators.
Genre: Biographies
Catalog Number: #172183
Format: Publisher's Hardcover
All Formats: Search
Publisher: Albert Whitman
Copyright Date: 2019
Edition Date: 2019
Illustrator: Vanzo, Filippo,
Pages: 32
Availability: Available
ISBN: 0-8075-9257-9
ISBN 13: 978-0-8075-9257-1
Dewey: 921
LCCN: 2018054721
Dimensions: 27 cm.
Language: English
ALA Booklist
Maria Merian was a curious but cautious girl rious about the insects around her home in Frankfurt, Germany, and cautious because her studying them in the 1650s could have led to a dangerous accusation: witchcraft. Trained as an artist, she gathered silkworms, observed them, and recorded their stages of growth in her paintings. She realized that their emergence from cocoons as butterflies was the result of metamorphosis rather than magic, and that "grownups are sometimes wrong." As an adult, she traveled to South America to observe and paint insects, and she published her paintings in several books. A biographical author's note concludes the volume, and reproductions of Merian's graceful, meticulous paintings appear on the endpapers. Offering a window into seventeenth-century life, Marsh writes perceptively about the challenges Merian faced and her ability to succeed as an illustrator and an entomologist. The text smoothly incorporates biographical and historical information into a well-told story. Vanzo contributes a series of nicely composed pencil drawings with color washes. A pleasing introduction to a notable woman, scientist, and illustrator.
Kirkus Reviews
Young Maria Merian had a passion for butterflies and moths that led to a lifelong, convention-defining career of natural-history illustration. When the young artist was growing up in 17th-century Germany, butterflies and moths were thought to arise through spontaneous generation and women interested in insects might be seen as witches. Still, Maria not only painted the insects she saw around her, she brought home silkworms and studied them, watching their metamorphosis and painting what she saw, including their favorite plants and flowers. Continuing to observe and paint from nature in her adult life, she also taught and published books of her illustrations, raised a family, and traveled as far as Suriname to explore the natural world. In contrast to Margarita Engle and Julie Paschkis' Summer Birds (2010), in which a first-person narrative captures Maria's childhood voice and joy in the natural world and the illustrations demonstrate the culture's changing approach to nature, Marsh and Vanzo present a more distant, staid story for young readers. Vanzo's illustrations, drawn with pencil and digitally colored, are modestly realistic, more so for the insects than humans (all white, including in Suriname). Sadly, the monarch butterflies that intrigue freckle-faced Maria in these images don't exist in Germany. Even the title is unfortunate: Butterflies and moths are not bugs. An author's note provides further information about this early naturalist. A few of the artist's original illustrations are included and sourced, but no sources are given for other information.Let this one fly away. (Picture book/biography. 4-7)
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ALA Booklist (12/1/18)
Kirkus Reviews
Word Count: 1,335
Reading Level: 5.7
Interest Level: 1-4
Accelerated Reader: reading level: 5.7 / points: 0.5 / quiz: 502988 / grade: Lower Grades
Reading Counts!: reading level:8.3 / points:2.0 / quiz:Q75181
Guided Reading Level: K

Maria Sibylla Merian was fascinated with insects. But when Maria was a girl in the mid-1600s, superstitions about bugs prevented most people from taking a close look. People thought bugs were evil--and anyone interested in such creatures was surely evil too. That didn't stop Maria. Filled with curiosity, she began to study and paint them. She even witnessed silkworms form cocoons and transform into moths--discovering metamorphosis! Painting and drawing as she studied, Maria pushed the boundaries of what girls were expected to do, eventually gaining recognition as one of the first entomologists and scientific illustrators. This gorgeously illustrated biography celebrates a fascinating female pioneer who broke boundaries in both the arts and sciences.

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