"Outside a dog a book is man's best friend, inside a dog it is too dark to read!" -Groucho Marx========="The person, be it gentleman or lady, who has not pleasure in a good novel, must be intolerably stupid." -Jane Austen========="I don’t believe in the kind of magic in my books. But I do believe something very magical can happen when you read a good book."-JK Rowling========"I spend a lot of time reading." -Bill Gates=========“Ahhh. Bed, book, kitten, sandwich. All one needed in life, really.” -Jacqueline Kelly=========

Friday, April 13, 2018

Friday Quotes and Review: The Girl Who Drew Butterflies: How Maria Merian's Art Changed Science

Book Beginnings on Friday is hosted by Rose City ReaderShare the opening quote from the book.
e Friday 56 is hosted at Freda's VoiceFind a quote from page 56.

Check out the links for the rules and for the posts of the participants each week. Participants don't select their favorite, coolest, or most intellectual books, they just use the one they are currently reading. This is the book I'm reading right now---

Title: The Girl Who Drew Butterflies: How Maria Merian's Art Changed Science by Joyce Sidman

Book Beginning: Each chapter begins with a short poem and a photo showing the stages of insect development---egg to egg and every stage in between.

Friday 56: The book is full of examples of the illustrations/art by Maria Merian. She always included insects in her drawings. This is an example of her pen and ink work. She would personally colorize these drawings in her special editions of books.

Comments and review: When I was young I wanted to be an artist. I especially loved working with pen and ink, so when I saw the drawings by Maria Merian I was especially enraptured by the art. But I think that Maria is probably best known for her work identifying the stages of insect development. She was a keen observer and would actually collect eggs and caterpillars and note what happened next. Unbelievably, in the late 1600s, when she lived, people thought that insects just emerged fully formed from corpses or the like. They also thought that people who spent time poking around in things that people didn't understand were suspect. Maria Merian had to be careful to not be labeled as a witch. Fortunately she was raised in a publishing family and both her father and step-father taught her how to draw and create the lovely flower paintings, otherwise her femaleness would have been a barrier to her talents. When Maria was in her forties, she traveled to Suriname in South America with one of her daughters. There she discovered many insects and animals that Europeans had never seen before. She brought home many samples and people were amazed. As soon as she could, though her health was not good, she set about creating a book with her diagrams showing what she discovered during her time in Suriname. This work still stands as a treasure, though she made some mistakes, many of her discoveries led to later work by other scientists and memorialized creatures which have become extinct.
"Fortunately, today's scientists, historians, and art collectors have rediscovered and acknowledged her work for what it is: amazingly beautiful, accurate portrayals of insect metamorphoses and ecosystems. her words and artwork told fascinating, intertwined stories to a public still highly suspicious of insects...The word ecology was not invented until more than fifty years after her death, but once again, Maria was ahead of her time. Many have called her the world's first ecologist" (119-120).
I loved this book. It was written by an artist, not a writer. That fact makes me smile. I love it that it was a woman who helped the world see the beauty and importance of insects. All those old, classically trained men couldn't figure it out, but Maria, with keen skills at observation figured out what should have been obvious. And her art. It is so lovely.

This YouTube video includes LOTS of samples of her paintings and illustrations and it set to Handel's music. (Handel and Merian were alive at the same time.) Even if you don't want to watch all 11 minutes of it, at least click to start the video so you can see more examples of her art. Lovely.

The book is written for a younger audience,  lets say for middle school students. I always wonder what kids would read books like this, though. But maybe there is some science or artsy student who wants to read an inspiring story of combining art and scientific observation. The book includes a table of contents, lots of examples of Maria Merian's work, a timeline of her life, quotes sources, a thorough bibliography, image credits and a short index. All of these make this book a very very credible resource for research or school projects. I recommend it highly to everyone, not just young teens.


  1. This is not exactly up my alley but I hope you're enjoying it!! Happy reading.

    My Friday post

  2. This looks like a lovely book. It looks like both the description and the illustrations are appealing.
    My Friday post features Mrs. Polifax Mysteries.

  3. What a delightful sounding book! I am a fan of butterflies. One of my favorite books as a young person was one about Monarch butterflies journeying up (or down?) the California coast every year.

    Thanks for sharing...and for visiting my blog.

  4. I can't believe I've never heard of this book until now. It sounds like one I would like, so I'm adding it to my TBR list.

    1. It was just recently published so I doubt many people have heard of it, yet.

  5. I'm fascinated by it! Happy weekend!

  6. That sounds so cool! I'm going to have to add it to my tbr. :)

    Lauren @ Always Me

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  8. This looks like a gorgeous book! Glad you are enjoying!

    Amy @ Amy’s Bookish Life

  9. What a beautiful book! I love that it includes poetry and such gorgeous illustrations. Thanks so much for sharing this one. :)

  10. Well this just looks lovely and very informative. Happy Friday!

  11. What a beautiful cover and title.

    Thank you for sharing.

  12. Looks like an informative and beautifully illustrated book.

  13. This looks like a beautiful book and I'm glad you're enjoying it!

  14. This looks like such a fascinating book. Happy reading! :)

  15. This looks delightful! I would've loved this as a young reader for sure. I'll definitely have to look into Maria's life and work; she sounds so fascinating!


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