Butterflies are one of the world’s most beloved insects. From butterfly gardens to zoo exhibitions, they are one of the few insects we’ve encouraged to infiltrate our lives. Yet, what has drawn us to these creatures in the first place? And what are their lives really like?
...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.