Little Lessons – Learning to respect nature with Maxilla

Maxilla cover pageWe recently received a copy of Maxilla, a book written by Lianne Ong and inspired by her son’s personal experience. Reuben finds a caterpillar in the school garden and brings it home, hoping to see it grow into a butterfly. He wanted to keep the butterfly as a pet but as he does his research on what kind of caterpillar Maxilla is, he realises that this kind of caterpillar needs to find its own food in the wild or else it would die.

So despite his own desire to keep Maxilla, Reuben learns that loving it means he had to set it free.




Now the value about loving and respecting wildlife reminded me of a post I penned a year ago about a simple weekend we had outdoors. In it, I mentioned that daddy caught a butterfly and we taught Vera the importance of setting it free.

Maxilla is a simple story. The book is beautifully illustrated and clearly written. The moral behind the story shines through too, which I thought was especially relevant since caring for nature and its inhabitants is something we may not experience every day living in Singapore. I’m no entomologist or botanist, but I do love being outdoors enjoying nature’s gifts of sunshine and greenery (minus the mozzie bites!) So I especially enjoy books like Maxilla that help in teaching children that nature has a timeless place in our lives.

I also thought that the extra pages at the end of the book showing the life cycle of a caterpillar was a thoughtful gesture, and adds another perspective (Maxilla’s) to the story.


Here are some questions that could make good conversation starters, as you explore the book with your child:

  1. How do you think Reuben felt when he set Maxilla free in the garden?
  2. Do you think he made the right decision to let Maxilla return to where she came from? What would you have done if you were in his shoes?
  3. If you were a caterpillar, how would you feel if you were kept in a box like Maxilla was?

If your child is around 3 – 5 years old, he’ll probably enjoy this book being read aloud. But just a word of caution; if your child is an emerging reader, he may find the font a bit distracting. (Some of the letters stick together, or look thicker than the others.) I would suggest going slow or sitting beside your child to help him along.

A nice follow-up activity idea would be to rear your very own caterpillar into a butterfly! (You may want to watch a video of how we set our butterfly free!)

If you’d like to meet the author, Lianne will be at MPH Bookstores, Parkway Parade at 1pm – 2pm on 15 March 2014 (Sat) and Woodlands Regional Library at 12 – 1pm on 21 March 2014 (Fri).

~~~ Giveaway ~~~

We have a copy of Maxilla to give away. To enter, just do the following:
1) Like our Facebook page
2) Leave a comment on this Facebook post (Answer the question: What is the name of Reuben’s caterpillar?)

That’s it. Giveaway ends 12 March, at 12 noon. The winner will be announced on this post, and contacted via email. Good luck guys!

This is week 16 of the Little Lessons series, which runs on the blog every Thursday. Do grab our badge and link up your little lessons / learning activities below!


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