Fill your house with stacks of books, in all the crannies and all the nooks. ~ Dr. Seuss

Summer Birds : The Butterflies of Maria Merian

line Summer Birds : The Butterflies of Maria Merian
by Margarita Engle (Author), Julie Paschkis (Illustrator)

All in one : Art, History and ScienceĀ 

Did you know that in the middle ages, people believed that insects generated spontaneously from mud? They also believed that insects were evil!

In 1647, Maria was born into a family of Swiss engraver in Frankfurt, Germany. At the very young age of 3, Maria showed interests in drawing. Her family encouraged her to draw and paint. And when she was just 13, Maria painted her very first images of insects. Maria went on to become a botanic artist, publishing three collections of engravings, studying insects and keeping live specimens, making drawings to show insect metamorphosis. All this at a time when it was very unusual to be genuinely interested in insects, “the beasts of the devil”.

This story is the amazing portrait of a little girl fascinated by insects in a world where insects were shunned. She studied them, observed them, collected them, drew them, painted them and at the end changed everyones perception about these innocent charming “Summer Birds”. She discovered the “metamorphosis” is a natural process. Thus, insects don’t spontaneously generate from mud, but change their form. Her studies on silk worms led her to understanding how caterpillars turned into beautiful butterflies. “Summer Birds” is a beautifully illustrated book on how Maria discovered the life cycle of these lovely insects and her life’s work studying them. Simply written from Maria’s perspective and wonderfully illustrated, this book is a must read for anyone with a thirst and curiosity.

Here is a sneak peek into Julie Paschkis illustrations:

Summer Birds Maria Merian

Here is the original from Maria:

Want to see a “real life” botanical artist in action? Visit the California Academy of Science’s “Project Lab” in SF.

Find it here: Library, Amazon, Better World Books


  1. I love books like this where kids can meet the scientists who made such amazing discoveries! Now on my reading list for summer – thanks so much for linking up at Discover & Explore this week.

  2. Thank you for the book recommendation! Looks really neat!! Have fun watching your butterflies!

    • reshamad

      Thanks for stopping by Jessica.. we are enjoying watching them every day!


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