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Kim's Book Reviews
| Home | Picture Books | Traditional Literature | Poetry | Nonfiction | Historical Fiction | Fantasy & Young Adult Fiction | Author Study: Lois Ehlert

by Lois Ehlert


Ehlert, Lois. WAITING FOR WINGS. San Diego: Harcourt, Inc., 2001. ISBN 015202608


In WAITING FOR WINGS, Lois Ehlert creates vibrantly colored butterflies and flowers in cut-paper collage to accompany rhyming text describing the life cycle of a butterfly.  In this beautiful book, she also uses variation of paper size to add interest and to divide the book into logical sections of text. Upon opening the book, the reader sees a lush spring garden and a smaller book within the book. These smaller pages, which represent extensions of the larger garden scene, present the egg, caterpillar, and chrysalis  phases of the butterfly's life cycle. When the new butterflies emerge, the pages return to full size and show brilliantly colored butterflies flitting among vivid blossoms. This unique design, with its vibrant color palette, make this informational book as appealing to young children as any fiction picture book.


Ehlert's  bright, rhyming text explains how butterflies begin as tiny eggs "hidden from view,/clinging to leaves with butterfly glue" and hatch as caterpillars that "creep and chew" and then "make a case in which to grow" before "each case is torn - wings unfold; new butterflies are born." Several pages at the end of the book provide information on butterfly and flower identification, as well as advice on growing a butterfly garden. The illustrations in this section are presented in accurate detail (Ehlert includes a list of  sources on the end page of the book) at twice their actual size.


Ehlert has provided an informative introduction to the life cycle of butterflies for  young children without resorting to anthropomorphism. The book flows logically from one phase in the life cycle to the next, and completes the cycle by concluding with the full-grown butterflies ready to lay eggs again. The type is large for young readers, and the rhyme makes this a superb read-aloud book in the classroom.