Mr. McGinty’s Monarchs by Linda Vander Heyden and illustrated by Eileen Ryan Ewen
I like this picture book because it teaches children the importance of milkweed for the survival of monarch butterflies, whose populations are in serious decline and may soon be listed as endangered, in large part due to pesticide use that is destroying milkweed, the plant on which monarch butterflies lay their eggs and the caterpillars feed. In the story, Mr. McGinty enjoys watching the monarch butterflies in his neighborhood. He is distraught one day when he discovers that numerous milkweed plants have been cut down, including many that have caterpillars currently clinging to them. Mr. McGinty gathers all the caterpillars and brings them to his house, where he purchases glass tanks for each one. But there are too many for him to care for. In an ingenious plan, he donates all but one of the tanks filled with monarch caterpillars to the local grade school, so that each classroom can watch the caterpillars grow and then release the new butterflies, teaching a new generation about the importance of milkweed and preserving monarchs. When the time comes, Mr. McGinty and the school children release the monarchs. The book also includes two pages of factual information about the declining population of monarchs, the loss of milkweed, and monarch migration.