My illustration, “Class Project:Butterfly Garden,” is posted in the live August gallery of SCBWI Insight Draw This! “Diverse” submissions. To illustrate this prompt, “Diverse,” I painted diverse children doing diverse tasks to complete a class project to promote ecological diversity.
This image was based on a project I co-led at my son’s pre-school to create a butterfly garden. The children were studying butterflies, and raising real caterpillars in the classroom, but when the caterpillars hatched into butterflies, there was no habitat on the school campus to release them into. I worked with my son’s teacher to help the students plant a butterfly garden of native wildflower species, so that the students could have some habitat to release the butterflies when they hatched.
At one point , while waiting for my son to come out of his classroom, I noticed in the hall, on the wall, were displayed the children’s drawings of butterflies, and then the word “butterfly” written in their home language. There are at least 65 languages spoken by students in our school system here in Malden. A boy and his father I had seen all year and never yet overcome shyness to have spoken to, were discussing his drawing on the wall. “Which one is yours?” I asked, and he showed me his drawing, and the word for butterfly he’d written in Arabic. I asked him how to say it, and he told me. I aked him if he’d written it himself, and he glowed with pride to tell me yes. I was deeply impressed and moved by our exchange. I noticed how by connecting over nature, we were connecting to this place, and to each other. Real experiences with nature build community and bring out everyone’s gifts.