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Winged Wonders

Winged Wonders: Solving the Monarch Migration Mystery

Meeg Pincus, Illustrated by Yas Imamura
Sleeping Bear Press
40 pp.
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It should not be hard to interest children in a story about monarch butterflies. But Meeg Pincus, the author of Winged Wonders, has a more ambitious goal: to teach them how scientists go about their work.

Her story starts by introducing readers to Canadian zoologists Fred and Norah Urquhart, who began studying monarch migration patterns in the 1940s. Pincus then presents a cast of supporting characters, including citizens who answered ads asking people to tag the monarchs living in their neighborhoods, a couple who followed the monarchs throughout Mexico, and the villagers who celebrated the fall arrival of the monarchs, which roost in the oyamel tree groves high in the Sierra Madre. Large, lush drawings by illustrator Yas Imamura invite children to insert themselves into the story.

Pincus does not stop at retelling the Urquharts’ story. Instead, she encourages readers to contribute to the ongoing research on monarchs and to work to protect their habitats.

The book’s bare narrative is supplemented by a final page filled with details about the Urquharts and those who have followed in their footsteps. However, those with additional questions—for example, why do monarchs migrate, and do they all travel such great distances?—will need to consult other sources. But that is a minor quibble if this mystery story kindles your child’s interest in this iconic species and environmental stewardship.

About the author

The reviewer is a senior correspondent at Science.