7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #704: Featuring Meilo So

h1 August 16th, 2020 by jules


I’m pleased today to share some spreads from Deborah Hopkinson’s Butterflies Belong Here: A Story of One Idea, Thirty Kids, and a World of Butterlies (Chronicle, August 2020), illustrated by Meilo So. It’s an empowering story about children working together as grassroots activists, and it’s a smart pairing of text and illustration.

The story, divided into seasons (from one spring to another), is told from the point of view of an immigrant girl, living in America. Like a caterpillar, she doesn’t “like to stand out or to be noticed.” She loves to read about monarch butterflies, who begin their migration every March, heading north from Mexico. When summer comes, the girl is sure she’ll see some monarch butterflies — but doesn’t. “I wondered if monarch butterflies belonged here,” we read. “Sometimes I wondered if we did, too.”

In the Fall, she reads in the library that monarchs need milkweed, but she also reads that peolpe routinely kill them with chemicals and that climate change has made it difficult for milkweed to grow. The girl’s librarian suggests the notion of a monarch way station, reminding her that butterflies are amazing and how surprising it is “what such a tiny creature can do.” Eventually, the girl tells her class about monarchs, and the idea of a butterfly garden is born. The class talks to the principal, the community (including gardeners and scientists), the rest of the school community, the town council, and even the mayor. After the girl explains to the mayor why milkweed should not be poisoned, he tells her: “I hope you’ll run for office someday. We need citizens like you.”

Intermittently incorporated throughout the book is information about monarch butterflies, illustrated as if the pages from a library book the girl is reading. And all throughout this inspiring, informative story, Hopkinson draws deft (and subtle) parellels between the girl’s own feelings as an immigrant in a new country and the butterflies’ journey. Meilo So’s lively illustrations nearly glow in spots; these fluid and vibrant paintings (in what appear to be watercolors) bring the girl’s world to detailed life. Below are some spreads so that the art can do the talking.

(Earlier this week, I featured here at 7-Imp another picture book Hopkinson wrote. She is a talented and prolific writer.)


“Some monarchs make a long, long journey, just like we did.
They have to be strong to fly so far.”

(Click spread to enlarge and read text in its entirety)


“In March, monarchs head north from their overwintering grounds. …”
(Click spread to enlarge and read text in its entirety)


“When summer came,
I felt sure I’d see monarch butterflies. …”

(Click spread to enlarge and read text in its entirety)


“I wondered if monarch butterflies belonged here.
Sometimes I wondered if we did, too.”

(Click spread to enlarge and read text in its entirety)


“After a caterpillar has molted five times, it’s ready to pupate. …”
(Click spread to enlarge and read text in its entirety)


* * * * * * *

BUTTERFLIES BELONG HERE: A STORY OF ONE IDEA, THIRTY KIDS, AND A WORLD OF BUTTERFLIES. Text copyright © 2020 by Deborah Hopkinson. Illustrations copyright © 2020 by Meilo So and reproduced by permission of the publisher, Chronicle Books, San Francisco.

Note for any new readers: 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks is a weekly meeting ground for taking some time to reflect on Seven(ish) Exceptionally Fabulous, Beautiful, Interesting, Hilarious, or Otherwise Positive Noteworthy Things from the past week, whether book-related or not, that happened to you. New kickers are always welcome.

* * * Jules’ Kicks * * *

1) Kamala!

2) Hope that the long national nightmare that has been Donald Trump and Mike Pence will soon end.

3) People who love to discuss picture books.

4) I started watching (and got all caught up on) I May Destroy You, and it’s one of the boldest television shows on this good, green earth.

5) Michaela Coel.

6) Booksniffing. My copy of Butterflies Belong Here has a particularly lovely new-book smell.

7) This below from cats_ of_instagram made my week. (I’m easily amused.) Audio required.


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via @leeo.thecat #catsofinstagram #cats #kitty #catlovers

A post shared by Cats of Instagram (@cats_of_instagram) on

What are YOUR kicks this week?

6 comments to “7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #704: Featuring Meilo So”

  1. Jules, featuring an author from my part of the world this week, awesome. Her book the Titanic never stayed on the shelves. And Sweet Clara and the Freedom Quilt. This new book will be popular for sure. We need these stories in the world now.
    Jules, yes to Kamala and yes to book sniffing.
    My kicks:
    1. Nikki Grimes’ new book, Kamala, Rooted in Justice. Talk about timing.
    2. Saadia Faruqi and Laura Shovan”s new book, A Place at the Table. My book to read today
    3. Meeting up with a Zoom writing offering on Saturday.
    4. The Poetry Friday community.
    5. The deck.
    6. Bread from small bakery.
    7. Friend chats.
    Have a great week.

  2. Hi Imps! Hi Meilo! That sounds and looks SO lovely and inspiring!

    Jules: Amazing cat video. 🙂 I want to watch that show but don’t have that channel. I’ve only heard good things! And yes, please, may there be good things to come – Everyone who can vote, please vote!

    Jone: I love bread.

    My kicks from the past week:
    1) Being pleased instead of disappointed
    2) Electric fans
    3) Water
    4) Pacing myself
    5) Noodles
    6) Articles
    7) Music

  3. I love the parallel stories in this book, especially love the illustrations of the outdoor market and community gardens. Adding this to my list of books for my nephews.

    Jules – I join in your excitement about Kamala and was surprised how happy (and emotional) it made me that its such a history-making choice. 78 days until we can hopefully get rid of the Trump/Pence nightmare! So far I’ve only seen ep 1 of I May Destroy You, but totally hooked.
    Have you seen this gorgeous cat from tiktok?

    Jone – great kicks this week, especially love 5,6 & 7!

    Little Willow – your first kick is so so wonderful! I love bread too.

    My kicks this week:
    1) Getting coffee beans from my PenPal in Minnesota – such a lovely surprise and the coffee is excellent.
    2) Speaking of bread, this lovely article about Diamond Bakery LA, open for 74 years! ( a few blocks from my old apartment in LA & now employee-owned) Its a great reminder to check in on local favorites right now and give them some extra love and business: https://www.latimes.com/california/story/2020-08-15/diamond-bakery-fairfax-avenue-coronavirus-gofundme
    3) Getting a letter from Tokyo PenPal and learning they lived in Portland 15 years ago! This Penpalooza project has been great fun so far.
    4) Watched the Perry Mason series on HBO and it was good. Great cast and nice prickly chemistry between Perry and Della Street.
    5) Productive work day yesterday and a witness who made me laugh.
    6) Met a friend at 7:30 am for a walk over the Tillikum Bridge and along the waterfront before the heat hits. Beautiful morning and great way to start the day.
    7) New hummingbird feeder seems to be a hit.
    7.5) Yesterday morning took Daisy in the car for a puppacino before the heat hit, then later convinced her to get in the wading pool to cool down a bit. Cole, my black lab, used to lay in it. Daisy treated it like a giant water bowl. She cracks me up.

    Have a great week Imps! Hope you’re all staying cool and safe in the heat!

  4. One extra kick! Artist Lucy Bellwood is doing an experiment called The Right Number – its interesting concept and I can’t wait to see what she does with it:


  5. Jone, looking forward to seeing Grimes’s new book on Kamala!

    Little Willow, I’m dying to know if you mean “articles” as in “a,” “an,” “the” (they ARE pretty kicky things in their practicality) or magazine articles. I assume the latter. Music AND noodles, always. (Band name.)

    Rachel, thanks for the link. I’ll look it up after I post my comment. (I’m on my iPad, and I’m afraid I’ll lose what I’ve typed if I go now.) We are also watching Perry Mason. I think we are halfway through. It’s good to see Matthew Rhys again. (We finished The Americans not too long ago.) Love your fifth kick. What a good week.

    Have a good week, you all!

  6. Jules: I love that question/interpretation! Magazine articles. Music and Noodles could definitely be a band name – ooh, or an educational cartoon series!

    Rachel: Yay hummingbirds! Hi Daisy!

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