Laurence Pringle

Children's Books and School Author Visits

Click on a title below, and read the story behind the book!

"Another winner in a long series of engaging, informative invitations to explore the natural world." --Kirkus Reviews Starred Review
"Beginning on a snowy afternoon in February and ending in early autumn, this book centers on a fox named Vixen as she explores her habitat, hunts, runs from danger, and starts a family. This intimate and personal view into Vixen's life is chronicled through a beautifully cohesive relationship between text and illustration...A rich reading experience awaits those who pick up this title..."--School Library Journal STARRED REVIEW
A "picture-book equivalent of watching a nature documentary."--School Library Journal
"Budding arachnologists will find this an enlightening introduction."--Kirkus programs about writing in schools
"A coolly fascinating, nostalgic glimpse into life as it was over a century ago." --Kirkus Reviews
"A must-have addition to science collections." --Booklist
"intelligent..eye-catching..readable lodestone for researchers." Starred review, School Library Journal
Paperback--the most unusual dinosaur book ever published!
The most comprehensive children's book about these amazing insects! "Smoothly written, beautifully illustrated"--School Library Journal author meets students in elementary schools
"An amazing nonfiction children's book"--Midwest Book Review
"A especial treat for young dragon lovers." --Midwest Book Review
"Words and stirring pictures focus on the role of the powerful black man on the thrilling journey...he is hailed as a national hero." -- Booklist author visits in schools
"Pringle's succinct text provides an engaging overview of penguin life...even penguin fans will find something new." -- Booklist
"Even readers fearful of snakes may find the subject a little less strange, a little more wonderful." -- Booklist
"Presented with respect for the subject and for the audience, this is one of the best of the many bat books, especially for a somewhat younger audience." --Booklist programs about writing for kids in schools
"The lucid text and elegant illustrations march in perfect step, creating an attractive fusing of art and information." --School Library Journal
"An exemplary nature-study book--accurate, explicit, and satisfyingly complete." School Library Journal
"Full of adventure and excitement, this book contains a wonderful mix of intriguing stories and historical facts."
--Childhood Education
elementary school author visits
"A poetic text...A wonderful choice to share with children before a summer vacation or to use as an introduction to an ecology unit." --School Library Journal
"A superb, well-researched book that finds extraordinary science in the everyday life of a butterfly."
--Kirkus Reviews
school author visits
Picture Book Fiction
"A likable book that's sure to start kids romping, and maybe their parents, too."--Kirkus

An Extraordinary Life: The Story of a Monarch Butterfly

The Story Behind the Book

This book's beginnings lie in a 1993 talk with Harold Underdown, then an editor at Orchard. We both admired the books of Holling Clancy Holling, such as Minn of the Mississippi, which is about a snapping turtle but is much more than that. It is rich with connections to other life, history, geography, geology. We wanted to create a shorter, simpler book with some of that same richness. I considered several creatures. (For ease of painting, artist Bob Marstall campaigned for a whale or a bird!). Monarch butterflies, with their amazing migration in North America, seemed the most intriquing to me.

I chose to tell the story of one individual monarch, because I felt this would lure the reader along on the journey. An Extraordinary Life is nonfiction, yet has a character you care about as you follow her death-defying story. Some of the information woven into the story, or revealed in sidebars, was so fresh that it had yet to be published in scientific journals. After reading a lot of scientific research on monarchs, I called leading researchers to get the most up-to-date information. Lincoln Brower, considered the world's foremost authority on monarchs, was very helpful. If he didn't have an answer to a question, he suggested other scientists in the United States or Canada. While I didn't actually need to visit a monarch winter colony in order to write the book, I leaped at the chance to go to Mexico with artist Bob Marstall. This experience enabled me to add a special detail: that the fluttering of countless butterfly wings makes a noise like the breeze in the forest.

Although the book was published several years ago, I continue to be deeply touched by monarch butterflies. I've planted butterfly bushes whose flowers provide food for migrators. And wherever I am in the fall--looking out my office window, driving a car, fishing on an ocean shore--my heart leaps when I see that familiar orange and black creature: a monarch trying its best to have an extraordinary life.

For more information about monarchs, their migration,
and conservation, visit the site of Monarch Watch: