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The Bug Girl: Maria Merian's Scientific Mission

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Is this book about a real woman in STEAM?

Maria Sibylla Merian was fascinated with insects. But when Maria was a girl in the mid-1600s, superstitions about bugs prevented most people from taking a close look. People thought bugs were evil―and anyone interested in such creatures was surely evil too. That didn’t stop Maria. Filled with curiosity, she began to study and paint them. She even witnessed silkworms form cocoons and transform into moths―discovering metamorphosis! Painting and drawing as she studied, Maria pushed the boundaries of what girls were expected to do, eventually gaining recognition as one of the first entomologists and scientific illustrators. This gorgeously illustrated biography celebrates a fascinating female pioneer who broke boundaries in both the arts and sciences.

Screen Shot 2021-01-22 at 12.09.52
Screen Shot 2021-01-22 at 12.09.52
Screen Shot 2021-01-22 at 12.09.52


Sarah Glenn Marsh


Filippo Vanzo


Albert Whitman & Company

Recommended Ages:

5 - 9 years

Maria Merian

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Girls Love STEAM Review:

Additional Reader & Professional Reviews:

Gr 1–3—In Frankfurt, Germany, in the 1650s, a young girl called Maria Merian explored her interest in insects, wandering the gardens observing bugs. Her passion was not shared by the town's people, who believed that insects were nothing more than evil shape-shifters created by "spontaneous generation." Nonetheless, Maria started collecting silkworms and their eggs, which she studied at home. Maria knew how to draw and paint watercolors as well, skills she learned from her stepfather. On her canvases, she documented her observations, sketching silkworms, larvae, mulberry leaves, and hatched silkworm eggs. The subject's childhood passion inspired her to document her findings in artwork books that brought her recognition among scientists, collectors, and royalty; she was also acknowledged as the first woman entomologist. Marsh shows how Merian encouraged girls to pursue their interests despite societal standards. Vanzo's illustrations include transformative depictions of nature based on digital images of Maria Merian Sibylla's hand-colored engravings that takes readers back to the 17th and early 18th century. The comfortably large black text is organized through the pages, facilitating a storytime activity in a classroom or library setting for school-aged children. An author's note offers engaging details of Maria Merian's life. VERDICT A fresh and captivating offering for elementary science units on entomology.
-- Kathia Ibacache, Simi Valley Public Library, CA - School Library Journal

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For ages 12 and under

Parent Permission Required

For ages 13-17

For ages 18 & Above

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