Velma Gratch and the Way Cool Butterfly
By Alan Madison
Illustrated by Kevin Hawkes
Schwartz and Wade Books
This review previously appeared in the January edition of children’s lit journal The Edge of the Forest.
Most younger siblings will tell you: an older brother or sister can be a hard act to follow. It never fails – big bro or sis make all the right choices, get the best grades, and generally make it impossible for anyone to top them. “Velma Gratch and the Way Cool Butterfly” tells the story of this familiar family struggle with honesty and humor.
Velma is the youngest of three Gratch sisters, and is desperate to make her mark. The accomplishments of Fiona and Frieda read like a how-to guide for hogging the spotlight: you’ve got your good singers, good athletes, and good spellers. Velma feels the pressure and starts looking for attention in all the wrong ways. But it is her love of science and, specifically, butterflies that allow Velma to make a name for herself.
Readers with older siblings will identify with Velma’s emotions as she finds her own course. A butterfly lifecycle tie-in adds another dimension, making the story useful for teaching as well.“Velma Gratch” should have no problem standing out.