Book Review: Velma Gratch and the Way Cool Butterfly
Velma Gratch and the Way Cool Butterfly
By Alan Madison
Illustrated by Kevin Hawkes
Schwartz and Wade Books
This review previously appeared in the January edition of children’s lit journal The Edge of the Forest.
Most younger siblings will tell you: an older brother or sister can be a hard act to follow. It never fails â€“ big bro or sis make all the right choices, get the best grades, and generally make it impossible for anyone to top them. â€œVelma Gratch and the Way Cool Butterflyâ€ tells the story of this familiar family struggle with honesty and humor.
Velma is the youngest of three Gratch sisters, and is desperate to make her mark. The accomplishments of Fiona and Frieda read like a how-to guide for hogging the spotlight: youâ€™ve got your good singers, good athletes, and good spellers. Velma feels the pressure and starts looking for attention in all the wrong ways. But it is her love of science and, specifically, butterflies that allow Velma to make a name for herself.
Readers with older siblings will identify with Velmaâ€™s emotions as she finds her own course. A butterfly lifecycle tie-in adds another dimension, making the story useful for teaching as well.â€œVelma Gratchâ€ should have no problem standing out.
About Travis Jonker
Travis Jonker is an elementary school librarian in Michigan. He writes reviews (and the occasional article or two) for School Library Journal and is a member of the 2014 Caldecott committee. You can email Travis at firstname.lastname@example.org, or follow him on Twitter: @100scopenotes.
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