Click the cover to look inside!
|Author: Susie Caldwell Rinehart
Illustrator: Anisa Claire Hovemann
Retail Price: Paperback • $8.95 | Hardback • $16.95
Teachers and parents! This book is a rare find, well deserving of the CBC/NSTA’s prestigious award. The science about dragonflies is perfectly integrated into a story in which the dragonfly’s remarkable metamorphosis from a mucky nymph (“Eeeewww,” says Eliza) to a beautiful winged creature (“Magnificent!” is Aunt Doris’ refrain) is a metaphor for the magic of Eliza’s growing up. Teachers will find it useful primarily in an elementary science unit on insects, life cycles and habitats, but also in for language arts lessons in theme, symbolism, and metaphor. The watercolor illustrations are rich, whimsical, and fun. There are two pages of additional science in the back. This is an exceptional example of “creative non-fiction” writing.
Rinehart’s story is “mostly autobiographical” and was enhanced by Hovemann’s shared appreciation for dragonflies, as told in A Dragonfly Brings Magic and Suspense.
Educators: download free activities based on this book on our activities page.
- IRA Children’s Book Award
- KIND Children’s Honor Book 2006
- CBC/NSTA “Outstanding Science Trade Book”
— 2005 Learning Magazine Teacher’s Choice Award panel comments (October 2004)
A small but nonetheless awful green creature swims out of Aunt Doris’s boot. “Eeeeewwww,” is Eliza’s comment. “MAGNIFICENT!” is Aunt Doris’s reply. With this kind of gusto, Eliza’s down-to-earth (and down-to-water) aunt strolls, wades, rows, or simply falls into the pond to share with Eliza the delights of entomology. Eliza’s discovery is not so much about insect life cycles as about faith in nature, about waiting patiently for the magic of growing up.
Watching a host of dragonflies crisscrossing the air above the pond, Eliza makes a wish on each one. “I wish I could fly as fast as a dragonfly. I wish I could ride my bike anywhere I wanted. I wish It didn’t take so long to grow up.” Then she discovers the young form of the dragonfly, known as a nymph – the awful green creature from Aunt Doris’s boot – beneath the surface. Every day after school, Eliza and her friends go to the pond to visit the nymph. they draw pictures of it, play music for it, speak Spanish to it . . . and dream their own dreams of metamorphosis about it.
The author, a Vermont-based writer and teacher with degrees in English and science, easily weaves details of dragonfly physiology – such as the long, retractable lower lip with hooks on the end for catching passing insects (eeeeewwww) – into Eliza’s story. The illustrator has chosen the perfect medium for depicting this wetlands tale: watercolors whose soft, blurry edges echo not only the refraction of light through the pond but the gradual subtlety of nature’s transformations, as well. Two pages of resource information follow the story, with technical facts about dragonflies, illustrations that are more sharply defined, and suggestions for further reading in books and online.
“Where are its wings?” Eliza worries about the young insect. “When will it know how to fly?” Aunt Doris reassures, “A dragonfly nymph doesn’t worry about when it will grow up. . . It doesn’t with it could fly or be more beautiful than it already is. It just mucks about in the pond, being itself. Then it wakes up one morning with wings.” And so it does – and so, the reader knows, will Eliza.
— ForeWord Magazine – Bonnie Deight (Fall 2004)