...informative, thought-provoking ... Williams is a consummate storyteller, and her narrative seamlessly integrates scientific facts with vivid portraits of characters as colorful as the butterflies that intrigue and inspire them ... While the news for butterfly populations is sobering, Williams urges us to never give up the work of conservation ... The Language of Butterflies is more than a small contribution to this crucial effort.
Employing simple vocabulary and succinct explanations of complex concepts, Williams’s style reflects her background in journalism. She is a master of contextualization ... The comprehensive text proves both Williams’ aptitude and that her project is as deep and complex as she argues. While each personal story leads to a larger point, though, some sections feel tedious and could be trimmed ... For such a historically situated text, Williams subtly threads in more recent cultural references ... With its contemporary references and (sometimes) gruesome explanations, The Language of Butterflies ultimately proves one basic point: that human superiority is a myth, especially when evolution continually engenders more complex and advanced organisms.
In her glorious and exuberant celebration of these biological flying machines, The Language of Butterflies, Wendy Williams takes us on a humorous and beautifully crafted journey that explores both the nature of these curious and highly intelligent insects and the eccentric individuals who coveted them. En route we discover, among other things, the remarkable interconnectivity of living things, the deceptions that insects deploy to trick predators and the complexities that present a significant challenge to our attempts to conserve the rapidly disappearing natural world.
... anecdotal ... in love with its subject ... comic asides are balanced by poetry ... she has a clear, logical style and a reporter’s instinct for telling stories through the people. One of the pleasures of the book is how gracefully Williams shifts between mini-profiles of pioneering butterfly fans and experts, the majority of whom are female or children or both ... It’s a charming, even suspenseful tale, courtesy of the sly cliffhangers with which Williams concludes most chapters.
...an unabashed fan, talking to unabashed fanatics with credentials ... Williams' book is an easy read. She is a storyteller, and has involved herself in her stories. What with the automatic prejudice in favor of the subject matter, The Language of Butterflies is a pleasure to read.
This entertaining look at 'the world’s favorite insect' tells about butterflies’ captivating beauty, and the ways these bugs have fascinated people throughout history ... Accessible ... Williams (The Horse, 2015) shares how she has been mesmerized on more than one occasion by the exotic beauty of butterflies; her enthusiasm is convincing and contagious.
...a deeply personal and lyrical book that also provides meaningful scientific insight ... She also discusses the factors behind declining butterfly populations, from habitat destruction to climate change, but remains optimistic that corrective action is still possible. Nature-loving readers will surely share the joy Williams takes in her subject in this admiring tribute to the butterfly.
A merry jaunt through the past, present, and future of butterfly pop science ... To keep the science and history accessible rather than overwhelming, Williams wisely selects key characters, transformational moments, and illustrative species ... Williams paces a geological event like an action movie, and her animated storytelling skills, coupled with her orientation toward universal themes like the nature of beauty, will appeal to a broad audience. The author views butterflies as emblematic of the natural world as a whole ... Expect this book to awaken the dormant butterfly enthusiast within.