One of the joys of having a garden this time of year, especially with lots of native plants, is seeing the all the bees and butterflies attracted to the flowers. If any Monarchs come through, it will be later in the season. In the meantime, I can prepare by reading Marta Magellan’s beautiful new book UP, UP AND AWAY MONARCH BUTTERFLIES (Eifrig Publishing, April 2024). I caught up with Marta to learn more:

Me: Congratulations on UP, UP AND AWAY MONARCH BUTTERFLIES! It’s a great introduction to our four-winged peripatetic friends, both the joys and the hard realities. What inspired you to write this book?

Marta: To tell the truth, I had a contract to write a series on pollinators and garden helpers, so of course butterflies had to be included. I focused on monarch butterflies because they are arguably the most popular of all insects, and so recognizable in their orange and black colors.

Me: Do you live near migration routes or did you travel to observe the butterflies in person?

Marta: Florida, where I live, is sometimes visited by monarchs on their migration routes, but it is also the home of monarch butterflies that never migrate. They’ve got all the sunshine and milkweed they need right here. Monarchs are all over our gardens and yards here, so just like retirees, they become residents. There are four that look so much like monarchs, they had fooled me into thinking I was seeing monarchs. That’s why I included a section on the residents as well as one on the imposters beginning with, of course, their incredible migration.

 

Me: How did you get into creating books for kids?

Marta: I’ve always liked to write, so I made my career out of writing. I taught Creative Writing, Composition at Miami Dade College. I was inspired by my brother Mauro’s three published books back in the ‘90’s to develop a Survey of Children’s Literature course. It was in that course that the importance of books for children became clear to me, and I wanted to be a part of it.

Me: The illustrations are a great mix between photos and lovely photo-real paintings by your brother Mauro. Can you share about his process?

 

Marta: I’m sure he can do a better job of talking about it than I, but we have done presentations together, so I can give you a general overview.

For Up, up, and away, Monarch Butterfly, as well as for my Bee Catastrophe book, Mauro used realistic illustrations. For Dragonflies, Water Angels, and Python Catchers he used cartoon illustrations. For the realistic ones, he had to reproduce each butterfly or bee using several close-up photographs. He starts with sketching with pencil and paper. He colored the cartoon ones by hand and the realistic ones (bees and butterflies) he added color on the computer. Here are some samples:

 

 

Me: Can you share what you’re working on next?

Marta: I’m hoping to write about hyacinth macaws (the big blue ones). They were almost extinct once due to the legal and illegal pet trade.

Me: Looking forward to it. And wishing your new book much success!

To learn more, please visit Marta Magellan – Children’s Book Writer and Speaker

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