Velma Gratch & the Way Cool Butterfly

Book review by
Patricia Tauzer, Common Sense Media
Velma Gratch & the Way Cool Butterfly Book Poster Image
Way cool tale of metamorphosis and individualism.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Positive Messages

A young girl's study and love of butterflies helps her find her own identity.

Violence & Scariness

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that this refreshing, uplifting book both gives a quick introduction to butterflies and encourages kids to find themselves.

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What's the story?

Spunky Velma, the third and youngest of the Gratch girls, struggles to establish her own identity as she enters first grade, that is until she discovers butterflies. Her interest leads to an adventure that changes her forever, and makes people around her sit up and take notice.

Is it any good?

Told poignantly in the words of Alan Madison and pictures of Kevin Hawkes, this book will touch the heart and mind of anyone who reads it. Delicate, creative details, such as the butterfly-shaped formatting of the copyright information, will guarantee that it stays there among other books that are part of the family.

A study of butterflies, a trip to the Butterfly Conservatory, and one specific Monarch opens a spunky little girl's eyes to the magic of life, and she changes forever. The use of the metamorphosis of a butterfly as a metaphor for growth and development is made fresh and exciting here by the personality of Velma Gratch. From her "carroty curls" pulled up in springy ponytails to her determination to learn big words like "metamorphosis," "conservatory," and "migration," Velma is an individual, though she doesn't know it yet. In her, both author and illustrator create the kind of independent, confident spirit that we hope all kids will discover in themselves.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about metamorphosis, and butterflies. They should notice the variety of caterpillars inside the front cover (including Velma, the Orange-tipped Gratch), and compare them with the butterflies inside the back cover (including Small Gratchis). How is the butterfly's metamorphosis the perfect metaphor for Velma's growth? Families might also talk about what makes us each feel special. How did Velma feel at the beginning of the book, and what made her feel more confident toward the end?

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