Children's Literature - Patrice Belotte
An ordinary evening becomes extraordinary when Jilly spots a unique shape in the distance. Playing fetch with her dog, Fudge, on the banks of Lake Eerie by their vacation home, Jilly sees something that seems very odd and uncertain. Despite her fears, her mother is oddly confident as she leads Jilly closer to the odd shape hovering along the lake's shore. Mother and daughter rush along the damp sand and into the chilly, dark forest to discover the source for this peculiar sight. Could it be a puff of dragon smoke? Or a cloud of dust that has traveled around the world, escaped from an erupted volcano? When Jilly and her mother reach a sparkling orange tree in the forest, they discover the unique brilliance of a natural wonder. Markle captures her own memory of discovering migrating monarch butterflies on the beaches of Lake Erie as a child in this simply told story. Wu's soft illustrations offer an evening backdrop to Jilly's unique adventure and the discovering of brilliant, fluttering butterflies. Nestled inside Jilly's curiosity is a tale of trust and wonder between a mother and daughter. The final pages of the book offer a message from the author and information about the migration of monarch butterflies, as well as a list for further reading. Reviewer: Patrice Belotte
School Library Journal - School Library Journal
K-Gr 3—A child recollects spotting and following, with her mother and her dog, an orange cloud down the beach and into the woods. They come upon a tree covered in orange leaves that, when disturbed, becomes a horde of fluttering monarch butterflies. These small creatures land in their hair and on their noses, and then settle onto the branches again to fan their wings and rest before continuing their long migration to Mexico. It's a moment in time that Jilly instinctively knows she will remember for the rest of her life. ("We're in no hurry now./When you're making a memory,/you want it to last as long as possible.") Wu's double-page impressionist pastel drawings in smudged tones of vivid orange, yellow green, blue, and deep brown echo the dreamlike quality of the narrative. ("Our footsteps sound too loud./I feel like I should tiptoe./I look so hard I think my eyes will pop.") The orange cloud of butterflies appears as a large spaceship in a commonplace beach scene, showing the girl and the dog playing a game of "fetch the stick." An author's note on the habits of migrating monarchs is appended, along with a short list of books and websites on the topic.—Susan Scheps, Shaker Heights Public Library, OH
Kirkus Reviews - Kirkus Reviews
A black rain that becomes a mysterious orange cloud over Lake Erie is the beginning for of a magical encounter with monarch butterflies for Jilly, her dog, Fudge, and her mother.
Veteran nature-writer Markle, who has written recently of places as disparate as Nova Scotia, Australia and China, here offers a gentle free-verse narrative based on a never-to-be-forgotten experience from her own Ohio childhood. The slow pace of her account is appropriate: "When you're making a memory, / you want it to last as long as possible." At first, Jilly is worried, hesitant about following the cloud into the woods with her mother, wanting to turn back. Wu's hazy pastel paintings on full-bleed double-page spreads emphasize the mystery, the woodland dimness and puzzling spots of orange they see. When the monarchs explode from the tree where they were resting and Jilly realizes what they are, they suddenly become clear to the reader as well.What looks dark and indistinct close-up shows surprisingly well at a distance; the text reads aloud smoothly, suiting this especially well for use with a group. Author's notes, a map showing monarch migration and a list of books and websites for further exploration add helpful information.
Even collections with many monarch titles will want to add this one for its masterful evocation of a child's sense of wonder at the natural world. (Picture book. 4-8)