The Bug Girl: Maria Merian's Scientific Vision

illus. by Filippo Vanzo. 32p. map. notes.Albert Whitman. Feb. 2019. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9780807592571.
Gr 1–3—In Frankfurt, Germany, in the 1650s, a young girl called Maria Merian explored her interest in insects, wandering the gardens observing bugs. Her passion was not shared by the town's people, who believed that insects were nothing more than evil shape-shifters created by "spontaneous generation." Nonetheless, Maria started collecting silkworms and their eggs, which she studied at home. Maria knew how to draw and paint watercolors as well, skills she learned from her stepfather. On her canvases, she documented her observations, sketching silkworms, larvae, mulberry leaves, and hatched silkworm eggs. The subject's childhood passion inspired her to document her findings in artwork books that brought her recognition among scientists, collectors, and royalty; she was also acknowledged as the first woman entomologist. Marsh shows how Merian encouraged girls to pursue their interests despite societal standards. Vanzo's illustrations include transformative depictions of nature based on digital images of Maria Merian Sibylla's hand-colored engravings that takes readers back to the 17th and early 18th century. The comfortably large black text is organized through the pages, facilitating a storytime activity in a classroom or library setting for school-aged children. An author's note offers engaging details of Maria Merian's life.
VERDICT A fresh and captivating offering for elementary science units on entomology.

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