Surprise in Auntie’s Garden: Ann Morris/ Illustrator: Heather Varkarotas
The beauty of a flower garden comes through loud and clear from the colorful cover to opening to the first two pages where you visualize and see the magnificent array of flowers that looks like a collage or a mural painted on wall. Auntie grew flowers in her garden and from an early age Erin loved them and wanted be look at the pretty flowers. Crying until she got what she wanted and allowed to look at the flowers when she got older Auntie let her pick some to take home to her mom. Imagine a little girl that gives her Auntie a special Garden Angel as a present to keep with the precious flowers.
Erin was observant and found something exciting in the garden. Imagine a striped worm and weeds. But, milkweed was prevalent in the garden and she missed some of it and it breaks off when a stem breaks and the liquid that drips out is white like milk. What a great learning fact to help understand one type of weed in a garden.
The worm she sees in the garden is munching on the weed and her analogy of the worm looking like a clown is priceless. The worm is colorful so guess how she will learn more about it? If you guessed from pictures of different caterpillars you were right. If you guessed on a computer to search then and you Erin are on the same wavelength.
The pictures of the caterpillar are magnificent and the Monarch Caterpillar butterflies are featured in this book. Butterflies fascinate me and I love the Monarch butterfly featured and wait until you and Erin see the pictures of them and how many the Auntie features as she explains that, when monarch caterpillars eat milkweed, it makes them taste bad to birds and other animals that would want to eat them. That’s why he can be so colorful and not be afraid of anything eating them.”
Erin came again in the fall to see her Aunt and headed for her favorite caterpillar with stripes. Can you believe what she learned this time? How about what cocoons are and how the caterpillar makes it? She wanted to see the cocoon when it is done and of course her Auntie agreed. Wait until you learn what Erin thought they look like and you won’t believe what happens in the spring when she returns. The monarch cocoon on the fence by the old milkweed plant was not green anymore. If you want to learn what happens to it and what she was able to witness when it started to open you have to join in the excitement yourself and watch it along with Erin. What came out of the cocoon? Where does it go? What was it? What did it look like and where did it go? Like all mysteries it’s more fun to research and learn the answers for yourself or come and visit Auntie’s garden and take the journeys with Erin and Auntie.
Children can learn a lot about caterpillars, the birth of a butterfly, why Monarchs are so special and the secret behind eating Milkweed and much more. Teachers can use this as an introduction to learning about other animals and how their young are born. Great and colorful pictures that look life like and bring my favorite butterflies to life. This is great for children in elementary school and even early middle school to learn about this special caterpillar. So, the next time you see a monarch flying around you make sure you wave at it, protect it and appreciate its beauty. Once again author Ann Morris creates learning too for everyone.
Fran Lewis: Just reviews/MJ magazine