Free pdf Four Wings and a Prayer: Caught in the Mystery of the Monarch ButterflyAuthor Sue Halpern –

Every Autumn, The Monarch Butterflies East Of The Rockies Migrate From As Far North As Canada To Mexico Memory Is Not Their Guide No One Butterfly Makes The Round Trip But Each Year Somehow Find Their Way To The Same Fifty Acres Of Forest On The High Slopes Of Mexico S Neovolcanic Mountains, And Then Make The Return Trip In The SpringIn Four Wings And A Prayer, Sue Halpern Sets Off On An Adventure To Delve Into The Secrets Behind This Extraordinary Phenomenon She Visits Scientists And Butterfly Lovers Across The Country, Offering A Keenly Observed Portrait Of The Monarchs Migration And Of The People For Whom They Have Become A Glorious Obsession Combining Science, Memoir, And Travel Writing, Four Wings And A Prayer Is An Absorbing Travelogue And A Fascinating Meditation On A Profound Mystery Of The Natural World

10 thoughts on “Four Wings and a Prayer: Caught in the Mystery of the Monarch Butterfly

  1. says:

    3.5 I particularly admire nonfiction books that successfully combine all sorts of genres into a dynamic narrative This one incorporates travel, science, memoir, history, and even politics Halpern spent a year tracking monarch butterflies on their biannual continent wide migrations, which were still not well understood at that point She rides through Texas into Mexico with Bill Calvert, field researcher extraordinaire goes gliding with David Gibo, a university biologist, in fields near Toronto and hears from scientists and laymen alike about the monarchs habits and outlook It happened to be a worryingly poor year for the butterflies, yet citizen science initiatives provided valuable information that could be used to predict their future.The book is especially insightful about clashes between environmentalist initiatives and local livelihoods in Mexico tree huggers versus subsistence loggers and the joy of doing practical science with simple tools you rig up yourself It s also about focused attention that becomes passion Science, like belief, starts with wonder, and wonder starts with a question Halpern writes engagingly, but at nearly 20 years old the book feels a bit dated, and I might have liked personal reflections than interviews with middle aged, white, male scientists I only realized on the very last page in the acknowledgments that she s married to Bill McKibben, a respected environment writer She frequently mentions Fred Urquhart, a Toronto zoology professor, and I wondered if he could be related to Jane Urquhart, a Canadian novelist whose novel Sanctuary Line features monarchs Turns out no relation at all Oh well Readalikes Farther Away by Jonathan Franzen Ruins by Peter Kuper.

  2. says:

    If you re interested in a well crafted and quick true story of Monarchs, this is the book I had tried some longer, scientific tomes on the topic, but being a lay person, I needed something with a storyline too I really enjoyed this educational book.

  3. says:

    A few days ago, I watched the TV documentary based on Sue Halpern s book Four Wings and a Prayer The programme follows the migration of the Monarch butterflies from Canada and the USA into Mexico and back again The migration of these butterflies is one of the most iconic natural spectacles, specially as the monarch is the only insect that migrates like a bird in this way.The film focussed on the overwintering grounds in Mexico, which are threatened by illegal logging Along the way, the film crew meet up with a lot of the academic and citizen scientists who have been instrumental in exploring the mysteries of the migration, along with Homero Aridjis, the poet laureate of monarch butterflies , who has done a lot to try to get their overwintering forests protected.They also show the celebrations that Mexican people make when the butterflies arrive co inciding with the Day of the Dead traditionally the people living near the wintering grounds believe that the monarchs are the souls of the recently deceased Once I had seen the documentary, I wanted to read the book immediately The book goes into a lot detail of the science behind the migration and spends time with individual scientists, including exploring the rivalries and tensions that are probably commonly found in any group of professionals The book also is a very personal document, Halpern outlines how her own fascination with Monarchs began and how she shares her fascination with her family.It s an engaging, interesting and important book.The book was written in 2001 and so is out of date Given that the documentary is based directly on the book, then it too is probably out of date in its focus, despite being itself quite a new production So both book and documentary focus on the threats to the monarch being such that the migration risks coming to an end, but this is different from the potential extinction of a species there being populations of Monarch butterflies that aren t involved in the migration to Mexico.However, recently it seems that populations of Monarchs across the USA are declining The reasons aren t clear, but probably include loss of areas of milkweed the monarchs favoured plant and pesticide use.

  4. says:

    Reading about this book about the Monarch butterflies only made me love them and appreciate what an incredible feat their migration is It made me want to book a trip to an over wintering site for next year.

  5. says:

    Joe MossI wanted to like this book than I did The author, who seems a warm and engaging person, is part of such narrative as exists and seems very committed to what she is doing Looking rather like a novel it is nothing of the sort, it is an account of the scientific lacunae in our knowledge of the monarch butterfly and its migratory habits, and some of the people who are involved in trying to answer these questions But as a true mystery story it simply doesn t work.The problem with this book is that it falls between two stools it is neither an academic treatise on monarch butterflies but neither is it a book which will hold the interest of the casual reader It promises than it delivers and there are limits as to how many times you can get excited by the fact monarch butterflies fly very long distances.There is a tendency to anthropomorphise animals, a habit Halpern bemoans but then at times falls into She writes well and lucidly but does rather ramble off at times There is too much description, too much set up and not enough delivery.On the plus side you do learn quite a bit about the monarch butterfly In my case, even though I love butterflies, probably as much as I ll ever need to know.

  6. says:

    After enjoying the novel, Flight Behavior by Barbara Kingsolver, I sought out one of the books that she read in researching for her book, Four Wings and a Prayer by Sue Halpern This is a wonderful study of Halpern s search and studies as to why Monarch butterflies follow the flight patterns that they do published in 2001, there are still many unanswered questions on this topic She teams up with many different scientists in the field, converses with world renowned field biologists and botanists from the USA and Mexico, and teaches us a lot alone the way in a very conversational, yet informative and questioning tone I, for one, have also been intrigued with the migration routes of the Monarch butterfly and eagerly found Halpern s work quite fascinating to read and learn from We can only hope that these creatures who used to congregate by the millions on trees in Mexico as part of their migration, and whose population is shown to be dwindling, can continue to thrive and survive.

  7. says:

    Terrible, ack I love butterflies especially Monarchs , and am fascinated by the migration, but this book just sucked Of the 80 books I read in 2007, this is at the bottom of the list, and it took all my willpower to finish it.Her writing is not good It s just not good It s boring and overly descriptive about stupid things that don t need to be described You can tell she s trying to set a deep atmosphere, and it doesn t work And to top it off, she actually includes bits from defunct mailing lists on the web Seriously, I didn t need to read that filler crap.

  8. says:

    I devoured this book Monarchs are a passion of mine and I found the information here incredibly fascinating Sue Halpern has a way of writing that I suspect I d find captivating even if she was writing about the phone book I couldn t put it down until I d finished it Unless you share that kind of passion for these amazing butterflies, you might not like it as well as I did, but in that case you might not choose to read it in the first place The monarch s story is still being written and I want Sue Halpern to write it when the time comes that it can be shared with the rest of us.

  9. says:

    This past summer was the first year I ever raised monarchs I learned so much along the way and was so happy not only to see these beautiful creatures close up for a couple of months, but also feel like I did my little part of helping the pollinator population We had 65 monarchs released in total This book might not be for everyone, it goes into a fair amount of detail about the theories of migrating monarchs and where they go, how they get there etc, but I was fascinated by it

  10. says:

    Really interesting info on Monarch butterflies lots of interesting quotes about scientists and their passions.