Butterfly for a King

By Booklist

The Sibert Medal–winning creators of Parrots over Puerto Rico (2013) join forces to tell another moving story of conservation, this time about Hawaii’s Kamehameha butterfly. They truly start at the beginning, taking readers back to the island chain’s volcanic birth and then zipping forward to the early nineteenth century, when King Kamehameha united the Hawaiian islands under his rule. This is how Hawaii’s endemic black, orange, and white butterfly came to be named Kamehameha. The book now leaps to 2009, when six fifth-graders asked local lawmakers to make the Kamehameha butterfly, the population of which was dwindling, Hawaii’s state insect.The children were successful, and the state government went on to start the Pulelehua (Butterfly)Project with the help of the University of Hawaii and a lot of citizen scientists. All this comes to life in Roth’s paper collages, which beautifully mix texture and color, as she creates everything from delicate butterfly wings to an opalescent comet’s tail. Trumbore’s engaging writing is saturated with information that is accessible to a broad audience, as a simple phrase runs along the top of each page for young readers that sums up the more detailed paragraphs at the page’s bottom. Readers will be excited to see kids playing an important role in the conservation of this butterfly, so be ready with additional resources on local citizen-science opportunities. A beautiful story beautifully told.