Butterflies Belong Here

Written By: Deborah Hopkinson

Illustrated by: Meilo So

For Ages: 5-8 years

Language: English

Topics Covered: STEM, Nature, Activism, Environmental Activism, School, Community, Immigration.


This wonderful book is a blend of non-fiction, activism, and social justice education wrapped up into a fictional story. Author Deborah Hopkinson described it as a blend of the two, (much like a hybrid car) in our most recent PB&J episode. Kelly was lucky enough to interview the author and the editor Melissa Manlove; the trio discussed all sorts of topics related to publishing and social justice. The episode is out now, and absolutely worth a listen!

Butterflies Belong Here is a beautiful book, and I love the main character, a young girl who has moved from another country to America with her mother. Unable to read English, she picks up butterfly books and learns all about them, and also about their decline. Spurred into action by the school librarian, our protagonist begins a school project to create a monarch waystation for migrating butterflies. The girl identifies with the monarch in both traveling long distances and emerging from their chrysalis; she is initially shy and quiet but throughout the service project comes into her own. The yearlong endeavor to create the monarch habitat also creates a blueprint for readers to follow suit and make their own butterfly stations at home or school. The call to action for helping butterflies comes with understanding just how much climate change and industrialization have affected their populations: a 90% decrease over the last two decades. Butterflies Belong Here is a longer picture book, which lends itself to reading different sections over different days, or perhaps the story or the non-fiction parts at a time. Youth empowerment is an important theme within the book, and I hope it inspires readers to do their part and help not just monarchs and other butterflies, but all pollinators that are in danger!

This book was kindly sent by Chronicle Books, but all opinions are our own!

Deborah Hopkinson

Deborah Hopkinson has a masters degree in Asian Studies from the University of Hawai’i at Manoa, where she studied the role of women in 13th-century Japanese Buddhism. She lived in Honolulu for 20 years and practiced Zen Buddhism with the late Roshi Robert Aitken, founder of the Diamond Sangha and Buddhist Peace Fellowship. She lives near Portland, Oregon, where she writes books for children and teens.

She is the author of more than 50 books for young readers including picture books, middle grade fiction, and nonfiction. At schools and conferences she helps bring history and research alive. Her work is well-suited for STEM, STEAM, and CCSS connections.

Deborah’s recent nonfiction includes DIVE! WWII Stories of Sailors and Submarines in the Pacific, named an Oregon Spirit Award Honor Book. Courage &  Defiance, Stories of Spies, Saboteurs and Survivors in WWII Denmark, won a 2017 Oregon Book Award, and Titanic: Voices from the Disaster, was a Robert F. Sibert Award honor book and YALSA Excellence in Nonfiction finalist.

Deborah’s picture books include Ordinary Extraordinary Jane AustenSky Boys, How They Built the Empire State Building, a Boston Globe-Horn Book Honor book and Apples to OregonFollow the Moon Home won the Green Earth Book Award, while Steamboat School was named winner of a Jane Addams Children’s Book Award. Deborah’s middle grade novel, A Bandit’s Tale was a recommended title for the Charlotte Huck Award.The Great Trouble: A Mystery of London,  the Blue Death, and a Boy Called Eel won the  OCTE Oregon Spirit Award.

Deborah received a B.A. in English from the University of Massachusetts and an M.A. in Asian Studies from the University of Hawai’i at Manoa. She lives near Portland, OR with her family and a menagerie of pets. Her husband, Andy, is a winemaker and artist; her son, Dimitri, is a photographer and landscaper; her daughter, Rebekah, is a teacher and chalk artist, and her toddler grandson, Oliver, is simply extraordinary!

Meilo So

Meilo So is the award-winning illustrator of many picture books such as Monkey and Panda. She was born in Hong Kong, educated at Brighton College of Art and now lives in the UK.

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