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The girl who drew butterflies : how Maria Merian's art changed science
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2018
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Trade Reviews

  Booklist Review

*Starred Review* Considered by many to be the world's first ecologist, Maria Merian broke ground through her meticulous observations of insects and beautiful depictions of them within their natural habitats. Born in seventeenth-century Germany, Maria was the daughter of famed engraver and printer Matthäus Merian and stepdaughter to a successful still-life painter, allowing her to study both art and nature from a young age. Sidman's writing radiates Maria's passion and curiosity for the natural world, and it is as absorbing as fiction. As Maria's primary interest was in caterpillars she worked diligently to discover their origins and connection to moths and butterflies, charmingly called summer birds Sidman begins her book with a glossary of butterfly terminology and later reveals how Maria became the first person to discover and present the complete life cycle of these insects. Colored inserts give further historical and cultural context to Maria's life, noting such things as the limitations placed on women during the seventeenth century and how the era's curiosity cabinets lead to the creation of museums. A fantastic array of illustrations embellishes the text with photos of butterflies, caterpillars, and chrysalises, and lovely images of Maria's artwork and that of her father's and stepfather's. Meanwhile, exceptional captions identify and establish each illustration's relevance to Maria's life. A vibrant, wonderfully rounded biography on a pioneering and prodigiously talented woman.--Smith, Julia Copyright 2017 Booklist

  Kirkus Review

The remarkable contributions of Maria Sibylla Merian, a 17th-century self-taught artist and the first person to document the metamorphosis of the butterfly, are not as well-known as those of John James Audubon, Charles Darwin, and Carl Linnaeus, but her discoveries preceded and influenced those later naturalists.At a time when the most learned adhered to the Aristotelian theory of "spontaneous generation," that insects came from "dew, dung, dead animals, or mud" and were "beasts of the Devil," Merian was convinced otherwise. Captivated by the mysterious lives of insects, she wanted to know where they came from. Flouting the conventions of the time to pursue her passion for insects made Merian's life difficult, but she never allowed adversity to interfere with her dogged pursuit of knowledge. Travelers' stories inspired her to take an arduous journey to the Dutch colony of Surinam to observe, document, and collect exotic species. With techniques learned from her stepfather, Merian became an accomplished artist, rendering in beautiful, extraordinary detail the intricacies of caterpillars, flies, moths, butterflies, and other insects. She recorded her keen observations in a research journal and published three books about her discoveries. This fascinating account of Merian's life and work is beautifully designed and embellished with both Sidman's photographs of what Merian studied and images of her artwork. Informative captions identify and connect each image's relevance to Merian's life and work.An exceptionally crafted visual biography of a pioneering entomologist and naturalist who lived a life devoted to discovery. (glossary, timeline, source notes, bibliography, further reading) (Biography. 9-12) Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
Summary
Robert F. Sibert Medal winner <br> <br> Bugs, of all kinds, were considered to be "born of mud" and to be "beasts of the devil." Why would anyone, let alone a girl, want to study and observe them?<br> <br> One of the first naturalists to observe live insects directly, Maria Sibylla Merian was also one of the first to document the metamorphosis of the butterfly. In this visual nonfiction biography, richly illustrated throughout with full-color original paintings by Merian herself, the Newbery Honor-winning author Joyce Sidman paints her own picture of one of the first female entomologists and a woman who flouted convention in the pursuit of knowledge and her passion forinsects.<br> <br> Booklist Editor's Choice <br> Chicago Public Library Best of 2018 <br> Kirkus Best book of 2018<br> 2018 Bulletin Blue Ribbon Book <br> Junior Library Guild Selection <br> New York Public Library Top 10 Best Books of 2018 <br>
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