This fine children's book will be on display and available for purchase at the
New England Odonate Conference
April 17th 2004


A Dragon in the Sky: the Story of a Green Darner Dragonfly

By Laurence Pringle Illustrated by Bob Marstall (Orchard Books/Scholastic, 2001)


  1. Smithsonian Magazine, Notable Book for Children, 2001
  2. Junior Library Guild selection
  3. John Burroughs List of Nature Books for Young Readers


The Horn Book Magazine

July/August 2001

A Dragon in the Sky: The Story of a Green Darner Dragonfly; by Laurence Pringle, illus. by Bob Marstall

64 pp. Orchard 5/01 ISBN 0-531-30315-218.95 (Intermediate)

Pringle tells a richly detailed story of one green darner dragonfly, Anax, and his journey from hatching in a New York state swamp to mating and dying in a Florida pond. Rarely do books of this nature delve so deeply into one species and its life cycle, migration, habitats, and interactions with other animals and plants. The narrative is packed with factual information yet is not tiresome to read. Indeed, the depth of the explanations may further stimulate readers' interest in dragonflies and other winged insects. Marstall's delicate watercolor and oil illustrations in predominately light browns and greens provide intricate detail and close-up views of the stages of dragonfly anatomical development. Throughout the book, interesting tidbits about dragonflies, the researchers who study them, and related scientific facts can be found in the margins. Directions for catching and caring for dragonfly nymphs at the end of the book encourage observation of several of the molting stages. Suggested resources for further reading are plentiful, though readers should be aware that many of the sources listed (and all of the websites) are for an older audience than that of the book. D.J.R

Library Talk

Sept.-Oct. 2001

*Starred Review (Highly Recommended)

A Dragon in the Sky: The Story of a Green Darner Dragonfly by Pringle, Laurence, illustrated by Bob Marstall. 2001. 64pp. $18.95 hc. Orchard Books/Scholastic. 0-531-30315-2. Grades 3-6

The story of one green darner dragonfly named Anax is told as an exciting adventure but is also well-researched with sidebars chockfull of scientific details. The complete life cycle is covered, from the mating process to egg-laying in the swamp, on through the nymph stage and the final molt to adulthood. The realities of the food chain are made clear through a discussion of feeding habits, dangers from predators, and the migration patterns of various creatures. Lovely illustrations in both oil and watercolors enhance the book. Some are full-color, double-page spreads of the environment; many others are delicate, close-up drawings of Anax and other dragonflies. Great underwater views of pond life show the relative size and habitat of the many insects mentioned in the story. Chapter headings, a map, and an index assist readers of this long, sometimes technical book. Created by an award-winning team of author and illustrator, this impressive book deserves a place in every library and should be useful in science curricula on life cycles in nature. Includes a section on raising dragonflies from the nymph stage and an extensive bibliography and Web site references to encourage further research.

Barbara B. Feehrer, Educational Consultant and Freelance Reviewer, Bedford, Massachusetts


Bob Marstall 221 Pine St., Studio 228, Florence, MA 01062 413-586-2822

Artist Visits and Programs

My school and large-group presentations reveal the step-by-step process of researching and creating nonfiction art for children’s books; explore the artistic process, the scientific method and the relationship between them; and focus on the importance of careful observation to both scientists and artists.

  1. After teaching art in elementary, middle and high schools, I began illustrating professionally in 1983. Since 1994 I have focused exclusively on nonfiction books for children and on the relationship between art and science.
  2. Keynote speeches: Mazza Museum Summer Institute 2003 at the University of Findlay (OH); and a Montana State University conference, "Integrating Art and Science", in 2000.
  3. Large-group presentations: include annual conventions of the National Council of Teachers of English, the American Library Association, and the International Reading Association.

Publications and Awards

Selected nonfiction picture books I’ve illustrated:

  1. The Lady and the Spider by Faith McNulty, (HarperCollins, 1986), a Reading Rainbow Book; winner of the Parents Choice Award for Illustration; selected as one of "1001 best books of the 20th century" in the NY Times Parents Guide to the Best Books for Children (1st Ed.). Over 225,000 sold.
  2. An Extraordinary Life: the Story of a Monarch Butterfly by Laurence Pringle, (Orchard Books, 1997), winner of the NCTE’s 1998 Orbis Pictus Award for Outstanding Nonfiction for Children

(I’m the first artist to share the award equally with an author); an ALA Notable Book; an IRA Teacher’s Choice; selected as one of "1001 best books of the 20th century" in the NY Times Parents Guide to the Best Books for Children (3rd Ed.)

  1. Down, Down, Down in the Ocean, by Sandra Markle (Walker & Co., 1999), a Parent’s Choice Recommended selection; an NSTA Recommended selection.
  2. A Dragon in the Sky: the Story of a Green Darner Dragonfly, by Laurence Pringle, (Orchard Books, Spring 2001), a Junior Library Guild Bookclub selection; a Smithsonian Magazine Notable Book for Children, 2001 selection.
  3. Crows: Strange and Wonderful, by Laurence Pringle (Boyd’s Mill Press 2002), selected for the 2002 John Burroughs List of Nature Books for Young Readers.

Related Experience

  1. In 2002, I was a recipient of a National Science Foundation Artists and Writers Program Grant to conduct research for a nonfiction book about Weddell seals in Antarctica. I subsequently spent five weeks in the austral spring of 2002 studying and recording seals and seal scientists on the frozen McMurdo Sound, 750 miles from the South Pole, and I am currently developing two separate book projects from that experience.
  2. • I currently teach (with Faith Deering, an entomologist and Smithsonian consultant) an inquiry-based online graduate-level science course on "observation methodology" for Montana State University and directed at elementary school teachers (we use live colonies of milkweed bugs, sent to each classroom, to teach about insects, the scientific method, and the nature of observation).

For information about arranging slide-illustrated talks and workshops at your school or organization, please contact me directly.