When the Monarchs Fly

By Robert Myers

Illustrated by Cricket McGehee

5-1/4 x 7-3/4"
64 pp., 9 illustrations
$11.95 hardcover
ISBN 0-945582-76-5



In an endearing story for young readers, a girl who lives in one of North America’s most famous stopping-off points for migratory butterflies poignantly identifies with a late-season monarch. Set in Cape May, NJ, When the Monarchs Fly, by Robert J. Myers, is a story that relates to a child’s sense of place and security - and to a wondrous natural phenomenon that is all about movement.

This is a children’s book, but involves the complexity of human emotions that the young feel at times more deeply than adults, but cannot express. The story follows the rough tide of the emotions of a young girl named Ellie who overhears a conversation about the possible move of her family. An only child, she keeps the information to herself. Feeling she will have to leave the only home she has ever known — the quaint, fishing community of Cape May — she is overwhelmed. The familiar return of the monarchs at the end of every summer becomes more than a mysterious act of nature to her, but something she must soon give up.

When the Monarchs Fly includes 9 illustrations by Cricket McGehee that capture the fishing community and, most of all, Ellie and her identification with the Monarch butterfly with the tattered wings. The author writes this poignant story with an understanding of the workings of the mind of a young girl, and in the end, the needed coming together of her family.

The book includes an endnote of natural history information about monarch butterflies: the transformation from egg to caterpillar to chrysalis and finally to butterfly, and their amazing migration.


Chapter One — Autumn:

Of all the seasons of the year, Ellie would miss early Autumn the most. For that was when all the winged creatures came through Cape May on their long flight south. There were the seabirds who crowded the shorelines to eat their fill of small crabs, fattening and strengthening themselves to fly to Central or South America. There were high-flying hawks who brought a sense of sky-dazzle, of sky-danger. There were the neon blue and green dragonflies, zigging and zagging through the pretty yards of the old seaside resort. Old timers called them the devil’s sewing needles and said that if you weren’t careful, they’d sew your mouth shut. But, most pleasing of all to Ellie, were the Monarch butterflies. She thought they were the prettiest, the gentlest of all the migrators. In early September the first of them could be seen, bringing in their train thousands and thousands more, like a loose cloud stretching out over hundreds of miles. Their wings were a strong bright orange, sharply divided by curving strokes of black. People said that they looked like the stained glass windows in a church. But Ellie thought that that wasn’t right. Stained glass windows were too still, there was no movement to them.


Robert J. Myers is a retired professor of English and theater (Trenton State College, in New Jersey) with a longtime passion for prose. He has written many pieces, including a number of plays, much of his work focusing on 18th century American theater. He and his wife spent several years, traveling from Worcester, Mass., to Atlanta, Ga., researching the roots of American theater. A 30-year resident of a small town near New Hope in Bucks County, Pennsylvania, Mr. Myers enjoys summering at his vacation home in Cape May, New Jersey, the location for his first published children’s novel, When The Monarchs Fly. Mr. Myers is an avid traveler and walker, an interest he shared with his wife until her passing two years ago. The two are noted for their long walks through the countryside of many nations, including a 150-mile, 10-day trek in Spain.

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