Butterfly for a King

By Kirkus Reviews

The history and species-conservation story of the Kamehameha butterfly, native to Hawaii. Millions of years ago, volcanoes formed the Hawaiian Islands, and over time plants reached the islands via wind, water, and birds. With the plants arrived insects, like the forebears of the special butterfly found only in Hawaii. The Kamehameha butterfly’s name is explained with a brief history of King Kamehameha and how he united the Hawaiian Islands. Skipping ahead to 2009, Roth and Trumbore relate how a group of fifth grade students decided the Kamehameha butterfly should be Hawaii’s official state insect. Explaining the butterfly’s declining numbers, they asked state leaders to pass a law recognizing the butterfly as the state insect, hoping it would help in its protection. It worked: With the passage of the law, Hawaii residents began to ask about the butterfly, sparking a cooperative project among the government, a local university, and citizen scientists. It’s a bilevel text, with a simple text in a large font running across the tops of pages and telling a poetic story and short paragraphs beneath in a smaller font that go into greater detail. Roth’s distinctively textured collage illustrations are stunning, portraying the butterfly’s life cycle and the people who helped save the species. Pronunciations of Hawaiian words are at the bottom of each page. A beautifully illustrated account of both a butterfly and the people who worked to save it.