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Velma Gratch & the Way Cool Butterfly    by Alan Madison & Kevin Hawkes order for
Velma Gratch & the Way Cool Butterfly
by Alan Madison
Order:  USA  Can
Schwartz & Wade, 2007 (2007)
* * *   Reviewed by Kerrily Sapet

First grade teachers remember Frieda Gratch because she sang like an angel. They remember Fiona Gratch because she ran like the devil. But no one remembers Velma Gratch, their youngest sister, for anything in first grade. She tries to make her mark by singing loudly and running slowly. She makes her first mark in first grade by being the first Gratch to be sent to the principal. Although she wants to 'curl into a ball and roll right back into kindergarten,' plucky Velma is determined to be something special, someone her teachers remember.

In Velma Gratch & the Way Cool Butterfly, by Alan Madison and Kevin Hawkes, readers follow Velma's quest to find her niche in elementary school. When following in her sisters' footsteps fails, she turns to the subject she loves - science. When her class starts studying butterflies Velma is entranced. She walks home from school each day remembering words like metamorphosis, and she spends hours learning about exotic butterflies. The plot thickens when Velma's class goes on a field trip to the conservatory, and Velma finally becomes recognized for an extraordinary turn of events that no one in her school will ever forget.

Author and illustrator team Madison and Hawkes create a wondrous world in Velma Gratch & the Way Cool Butterfly. The language of the story bounces and thrills the reader with descriptions of smiles pretzel-twisting into frowns and spaghetti arms trembling. Along the way, the authors sprinkle in fascinating information about Monarch butterflies as they make their yearly migration to Mexico. Readers of all ages will enjoy this tale of Velma Gratch as she finds her niche by shedding her cocoon and becoming a confident young scientist.

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