JUNE 19:

  • Happy birthday Elvira Woodruff (Dear Austin: Letters from the Underground Railroad).
  • In 1910, the first Father’s Day is celebrated in Spokane, Washington. Read A Perfect Father’s Day by Eve Bunting, illustrated by Susan Meddaugh, and Father’s Day by Anne Rockwell, illustrated by Lizzy Rockwell.
  • It’s World Sauntering Day, so slow down and enjoy the world around you! Read All the World by Liz Garton Scanlon, illustrated by Marla Frazee; Crinkleroot’s Guide to Walking in Wild Places by Jim Arnosky; and Ramona’s World by Beverly Cleary.

Today we celebrate Butterfly Day, a time to go out and gaze at some of nature’s most beautiful creatures. They lift their wings and our spirits. My favorite butterfly book since 2001 has been Lois Ehlert’s Waiting for Wings, an oversized volume that highlights butterflies and the plants that sustain them.

Lois Ehlert always knew she wanted to be an artist, and her parents encouraged her by giving her a private space to create art. A Milwaukee, Wisconsin, native and resident, she received a B.F.A. from the University of Wisconsin and pursued graphic design.

In 1965, Ehlert illustrated her first children’s book. But it wasn’t until the late eighties that she began experimenting with intense color collages to explore her favorite subject matter—the natural world—in books like Growing Vegetable Soup. Waiting for Wings is one of her most glorious books to date. She begins the saga with eggs; they turn into caterpillars that creep and chew. On small, partial pages in this large book, Ehlert shows the growth and development of these creatures. But when the butterflies finally emerge, she uses the full page to emphasize their size and beauty. At the end, completing their life cycle, they lay eggs.

At the back of the book, Ehlert provides scale drawings of various butterflies and plants, as well as information about each species. She also makes suggestions for anyone wanting to grow a butterfly garden. In Waiting for Wings the reader can experience both a fictional story and nonfiction information in one book. The story and facts complement each other.

As someone who grew up in Indiana, I have always loved the fact that Ehlert draws on the natural world around her—these are the butterflies of my youth. No one pays better tribute to them than Ehlert. I long ago made a gift of my paperback version of the book to make room for a hard cover copy, the ideal way to experience the content. I simply love running my hands over the pages, admiring their beauty.

So on Butterfly Day, pick up Waiting for Wings and go out and search for these glorious creatures. Both the book and butterflies will lift your spirits.

Here’s a page from Waiting for Wings:

Waiting for Wings image

Originally posted June 19, 2013. Updated for .

Tags: Animals, Gardening, Insects, Science, Zoology
Instructional materials from TeachingBooks.net for Waiting for Wings


  1. G. Perry says:

    What a splendid looking book. I just ordered it from the library and there is a waiting list.

    I love the title!


  2. Anita says:

    Gordon: Yes, a fine example of the “book beautiful” so admired by those who established children’s book publishing.

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