Molly's Reviews

the Butterfly GardenThe Butterfly Garden
Denise Gasta
Cover Art/illustrations: Gregory Michel
Writer's Exchange E-Publishing

Interesting read ... Recommended ... 4 stars

Nettie is a curious little girl who likes butterflies. During the summer she often goes to look for a butterfly garden. She has heard others talking about the garden however Nettie's parents tell her it is only a nice tale and is not real. One day Nettie is delighted to follow a group of Monarch butterflies deep into the woods behind her house. She finds the garden, shares lemonade with the butterflies and has a wonderful day. When Nettie returns home she discovers her parents are worried. The woods are big, trails are confusing, and Mom and Dad do not want her to get lost. At last Nettie persuades her parents to come with her to the butterfly garden. Later when Nettie grows up she attends college where she studies butterflies!

I found "The Butterfly Garden" to be a book of much appeal. Illustrations by Gregory Michel are well suited to the tale wrought by writer Denise Gasta. The notion of a summer of halcyon days spent watching and sitting among butterflies is something for each of us to cherish. Writer Gasta's Nettie is a likeable child. Nettie is notionate - as kids are, argumentative at times - as kids are, but Nettie is also ready to accept her parents instructions in spite of her desire to return to the garden.

I like the PDF eBook format for kids to use for their own eBook reading for pleasure. The PDF is easy for children to manipulate with a minimum of help from a parent. "The Butterfly Garden" should fit well into the school, home school and 'read for pleasure' program. Teachers will find the book valuable for their 'nature' studies as well. Will butterflies really drink lemonade? The book can serve as both discussion and experiment starter as teacher and student(s) first discuss the theory and then set out to learn whether or not butterflies really will sip a little lemonade.

From a teaching standpoint I found the vocabulary used in "The Butterfly Garden" to be a tad advanced for younger readers. The book should fit well as a 'read to' book for the 3-6 set, 'read with help' for the 6-8 and read alone for strong reader 8's and older. As a help to teachers, parents and home schoolers a target audience noted on the cover and word list of vocabulary used in the back of
the book would be advantageous.

On the whole a charming work, happy to recommend.

Denise Gasta
Cover Art/illustrations: Gregory Michel
Writer's Exchange E-Publishing

Entertaining read ... recommended ... 3.35 stars

Danny the dandelion is befriended by a lonely little boy Kai. Danny has met only rebuff from the adults who mow the lawn where he lives and the flowers that live in the flower beds. Danny is a weed. Kai sees instead a pretty yellow flower. Danny survives despite being mowed.

The narrative writer Gasta produces in "Danny" is one children will enjoy. However, I felt concerned that Daddy was so unconcerned about his child's feelings and continued to try to destroy the dandelion after his youngster had spent many hours and days weeping. I was happy to see Kai grow up to continue to see beyond the superficial, but would have liked to see Daddy become a bit more understanding.

The illustrations found on the pages of "Danny" are not the usual slick 'commercial' type and I like that. This is a book directed toward the children who will enoy and not the adults who will be buying. Too often children's books are produced in a manner to entice the adults and not the child audience. The illustrations produced by Gregory Michel appear to be drawn and colored a la Syd Hof… a technique children in my class room always enjoyed very much.

As a teacher I would like to see a word list added to the end of the book with grade level indicated for each word. The narrative will have appeal to the 3-8 set, however the vocabulary at times is beyond most readers in that age group. As an aid to Teachers and Parents I would like to see an indication of target audience added.

The multiple file format is my least favorite for children's 'read alone' works. However once the younger set is shown where to begin I do not think kids will find the book difficult to navigate. A button appears at the bottom of the first page leading the reader to the second, and so forth. Children will not need to click each file in order to read. The multiplicity of files can be a tad daunting for little folks to view at first.

The one line I would like to see changed is when Kai asks why the big people always take away everything he likes. Other than Danny we are not presented with an example of the adults taking away anything.

Despite the multiple files and my small upset with Dad, "Danny" is a book I believe I could use with success in my own classroom. The tale itself is endearing, is one children will enjoy and the illustrations are child appealing.




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© 2005 by Molly Martin