The Secret Life of Butterflies

Image of The Secret Life of Butterflies (The Secret Life of...Series, 1)
Release Date: 
August 9, 2022
Thames & Hudson
Reviewed by: 

The Secret Life of Butterflies is a gorgeous book with a blue cover loaded with Monarch butterflies. It is a companion book, with the same size, shape, and blueness as The Secret Life of Whales, both written and illustrated by Rena Ortega. This time, however, the author is different, Roger Vila, a butterfly expert from Barcelona.

Even if a single word cannot be read by the reader, the book is a joy in color and design. Butterflies are inherently gorgeous, and Ortega shows us how this is so. The pages have various background colors and vibrant drawings of butterfly larvae, pupae, eggs, disguises, superpowers, journeys, camouflage, and records. The Records page is shades of pink with black and white. It’s the only double page spread that Is not grounded in earthy tones, and it sticks out because of that.

The author is obviously an expert. He poses various questions and then answers them. “Is it a hornet or a wasp (referring to a hornet moth)?” “Did you know butterflies have superpowers?”  “How do moths find mates at night?”

Wait! Isn’t this a book about butterflies? Moths show up a lot in the book, so why isn’t the title The Secret Life of Butterflies and Moths? Or the Secret Life of Lepidoptera? The page that shows the kingdom, phylum, subphylum, class, infraclass, superorder, and order states that butterflies and moths both belong to the order called lepidoptera.

Butterflies in the Age of Dinosaurs show butterfly fossils in amber from prehistoric times. “Can you imagine butterflies fluttering among the dinosaurs?”

“Where do butterflies go when it’s cold?” A beautiful snowy spread shows how they survive winter. “The world needs butterflies” is a spread explaining how butterflies are a source of food for birds, reptiles and small mammals. Who knew that bats eat mostly moths? It explains how butterflies pollinate flowers. “Caterpillars eat plants and help control their growth.”

The Save the Butterflies page discusses pesticides, climate change, and habitat loss. The book is recommended for six to eight year olds, but older readers will also learn a thing or two from the oversized book. It’s a steal at $16.95 and belongs in every classroom from kindergarten on up. A five-year-old child might not understand all the labeled parts of a butterfly or even know if they are looking at a moth, but the art will inspire them to think about the most beautiful insects on the planet and how they play a role in all life on Earth.