Velma Gratch And The Way Cool Butterfly


Remember first grade? Does your teacher remember you? Everyone remembers Frieda and Fiona, the older Gratch sisters, but no one notices Velma. They can't even remember her name! Velma is very sad and doesn't think she belongs in first grade. She isn't a good singer (like Frieda) or good at sports (like Fiona). She likes science, and she LOVES butterflies. When Mr. Plexipuss takes the class to the Butterfly Conservatory, Velma is all aflutter. When a monarch butterfly befriends Velma, what happens next is just ... way cool.

Reader Enjoyment Factors:

Young elementary-aged children will enjoy this story about a young girl and her butterflies. For those who want books that encourage science and discovery for girls, this is a nice read.

Content Awareness Factors:

See the comment about the visits to the principal's office. Given the understanding and encouraging tone set by the rest of the story, Velma's visits (and the fear of a third one just by the mere mention of her name) were a little heavy-handed.

Little Kid Reaction

Our daughter loves this book. We've been reading it every day for more than a week! She listens very closely and stares at the illustrations as we read, never interrupting (which is rare).

Parent Reaction

This is a fun story, and I love that it has several layers. Although the story focuses largely on Velma, the author has thoughtfully weaved in other themes: the individuality and the supportive dynamic of the Gratch sisters; facts about butterflies; and a positive "model" about girls liking science (and "bugs"). The only piece that didn't set well was the visit to the principal's office. I understood the first one, as it helped set up the story. But going to the principal's office because of a butterfly on her finger is a little "out there."

Type of Book:
This picture book offers lessons in personal discovery and being true to yourself.
Educational Themes:

The author very effectively weaves in great facts about butterflies to add a non-fiction dimension to the story. The pace of events make it easy to pause and explore Velma's feelings, too. Ask about your child's interests. This is a book to read outside, so that when you close the cover, you can go explore the garden. The wonderful illustrations on the endpapers make it an instant field guide.

Reading Level:
Recommended Age To Read By Yourself:
7 to 10
Recommended Age To Read Together:
4 to 8
Age of child:
Started reading with 6½-year-old girl.
Purchase Recommendation:
Buy! Especially if you have a young daughter with older sisters.

Title Velma Gratch and the Way Cool Butterfly
Author Alan Madison
Publisher Schwartz and Wade © 2007
Illustrators Kevin Hawkes
ISBN 9780375835971
Material Hard Cover
Cost $16.99
Genres Nature, Science, Life Lessons
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Other Reviews:

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