Two intrepid librarians

Two intrepid librarians review the best nonfiction books for children

Monday, October 8, 2018

The Monarchs Are Missing: a Butterfly Mystery by Rebecca E. Hirsch

The Monarchs Are Missing: a Butterfly Mystery
Rebecca E. Hirsch
Millbrook Press. 2018

Science writer, Rebecca E. Hirsch brings readers along as she goes in search of answers to why the Monarch butterfly is making a rapid decline. In 1997, the highest year on record, population in the winter colonies covered 45 acres (18 ha).  Not able to count each individual butterfly, scientists estimated there were one billion monarchs. In 2014, the winter colonies measured just 1.7 acres (0.7 ha), leaving only 35 million monarchs. Why?

Hirsch does an excellent job making the narrative, which is packed with scientific information, easy to understand. 

“Losing monarchs could be bad for our world because monarchs play an important part in the food web. Despite the milkweed toxins in their bodies, they are food for songbirds, spiders, and insects. Monarchs visit many flowers and act as pollinators. Among pollinating insects, monarchs are very well studied and may be telling us something big is going wrong with our environment. If monarchs are in trouble, that could be a sign that other insect pollinators - not to mention other migrating animals — could be in trouble too.”

Scientists don’t agree on just one reason why these iconic butterflies are on the decline, but, thankfully, Scientist Elise Zipkin, who studies monarch migration, continues to search for answers. 

Color photographs with clear captions are throughout the book that reflects what is being discussed in the text. 

There is lots of back matter here: an author’s note, glossary, suggestions for further reading, organizations to contact to become a citizen scientist, resources to inspire readers to plant a butterfly garden, source notes, bibliography, and index. 

A perfect companion to Loree Giffin Burn’s Citizen Scientists.

I borrowed a copy of this book from my local public library to write this review

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