Book Reviews for “My Name is Butterfly”

I am happy to report that book reviews are coming in for My Name is Butterfly.

I will start to post them here on this post, the author’s Blog.

“Congratulations on your book.” Erica Hohos, Worcester, MA.

“Good story for a teacher or parent to read to kids. Education.”  Linda G. Lanzisera, staff Battle Creek Cypress Swamp, Calvert County, MD; Home: Broomes Island, MD.

This county story starts under a plant – Spooner Advocate: Local: spooner advocate, monarch, mary ellen ryall, shell lake, washburn county

This county story starts under a plant

  • test4Writer and butterfly fan

Photo copyright Frank Zufall

Writer and butterfly fan

Mary Ellen Ryall is surrounded by photos and her journal used to document the emergence of a monarch butterfly in her garden in 2003, which eventually became the story for My Name is Butterfly.

Posted: Wednesday, December 21, 2011 8:31 am | Updated: 11:51 am, Thu Dec 22, 2011.


For those looking for a Christmas gift inspired by a Washburn County story, one idea is My Name is Butterfly, a book written by Mary Ellen Ryall, director of Happy Tonics, the organization behind the Monarch Butterfly Habitat in Shell Lake.

Ryall wrote the story based on personal observations in her Minong garden in 2003.

“I saw this chrysalis under a bean plant, attached to the bottom of the bean leaf,” she said. “I thought, ‘What in heaven’s name is this?'”

She took a photo of the chrysalis and sent it to a friend in Ohio. “She said, ‘Mary-Ellen, do you realize you have a monarch butterfly chrysalis there?'”

From ground level, Ryall studied and observed the chrysalis change to adult butterfly.

“While I was there I had my bottle of water and this notepad,” she said. “I kept wondering, ‘What is she trying to teach me?’ I had no idea why I was having this experience, and I wrote down even about that.”

Ryall said a rabbit had eaten part of the leaf where the chrysalis was anchored, so she constructed a little fence around the bean plant.

“If that rabbit had come back one more day, I wouldn’t even have a chrysalis left.”

When the chrysalis turned dark, Ryall knew the butterfly was about to emerge.

“This is the very first time the butterfly comes out. Her wings were completely wet,” she said, “and I was with her for three hours. That’s how long it takes for a butterfly’s wings to dry out. They try to climb higher and higher to reach the sun, to get their wings dried. They pump fluids from abdomen to wings to do that.”

Ryall recalls the butterfly’s journey toward the sun: “And then the butterfly tried to climb up the bean pole, but the top of the plant had been eaten by the rabbit. She climbed to another plant and she went to a sunflower. She almost fell down. She had to right herself.”

During the climb, Ryall saw the male butterfly fold its wings back to let the underside dry.

“I’ve never seen a shot like that before,” Ryall said about the photograph she took of the butterfly.

“Then he gets up tall on this sunflower, and that’s when he flew away.”

From her Minong garden, Ryall shared her journal observations and photos with Patrick Shields, an English professor at Lac Courte Oreilles Ojibwe Community College.

“He said, ‘Knowing you, that butterfly will be immortal,'” she said.

The journal notes were transformed in what Ryall calls a “creative, non-fiction” story – her experience but with other characters: a young girl and her mother.


After the story was written, Ryall looked for a publisher. In a twist of fate, a publisher’s granddaughter volunteered at the Happy Tonics office

“Her grandmother came in one day and said, ‘I heard you wrote a story about a butterfly, about a monarch.’ I said, ‘I did,’ and she said, ‘Can I see it?'”

The publisher was Lindy Casey of Salt of the Earth Press, a small publisher from Northern Wisconsin focusing on books for children, the environment, organic gardening, recipes.

Ryall left Casey alone in the Happy Tonics office with the manuscript while Ryall visited the Shell Lake library.

“When I came back, she said, ‘This is important work. I’m going to publish it.'”

After a deal was struck, Stevie Marie Aubuchon-Mendoza of Las Vegas, Nev., was chosen to illustrate the book.

To help the illustrator, Ryall asked Minong’s Cassie Thompson and her mother, Tanya, to recreate scenes from the story which Ryall photographed.

“I told her [Cassie] to wear a baseball cap and she said, ‘I don’t wear a baseball cap.’ I said, ‘In this story she does wear a baseball cap.'”

Cassie takes on the character Sara Reynolds who goes out to the garden and finds a butterfly egg and then a caterpillar.

In the story, Mom cautions Sara to leave the new life alone and also teaches Sara new terms, like pupae.

“Her mother teaches her [Sara] while the butterfly teaches her the actual life cycle, so it’s the butterfly telling the story, basically, and getting more information from her mother.”

Coloring book

Following My Name is Butterfly, Ryall and a graphic designer from Alexandria, Va. created a publishing house called Butterfly Women Publishing.

The first publishing project, due out this spring for Earth Day, is a coloring book of Monarch butterflies illustrated by Gordon artist Mora McCusker.

“There are so many people I can reach locally. If I want the greater message to get out there, I have to get it published,” said Ryall. “That’s why we created the publishing house, so we could get some of my essays and manuscripts out there. If my life is short and sweet, this will be something of me to leave on this planet.”


My Name is Butterfly is available at or by visiting

I am very grateful to Morgen Bailey

Dear Readers,

I visited Morgen Bailey’s Blog and asked if she did book reviews. She said, no; however, she invited me to post my book on the Books- Other Peoples page at

I am thankful that Morgen gave my book My Name is Butterfly notice in the UK. Those who click on my book will go automatically to Amazon where they can purchase the book directly. I in turn am promoting Morgen Bailey. Writers may gain insight to writing ideas from her Blog. Morgen says, “Thank you for visiting and do pop by the blog regularly for updated contents” at

Morgen is located in Northampton, England. She handled my request within an hour of us meeting each other through her Blog on WordPress. She was fast in getting back to me that my request to have my book on the Books – Other Peoples page was done.

I plan to spend more time at her Blog learning more about the craft of writing. When someone is this kindly spirited, I feel I have something to learn. I hope you too will enjoy meeting Morgen.

Write on,

Mary Ellen

p.s. Recently Morgen emailed and suggested I correct some spelling errors. Thank you Morgen. I am dyslexic and often do not see misspellings, even when I proof a job. The learning disability gets worse as I age. As a writer and published author, I am grateful to editors who are kind. Morgen is one of those rare individuals who not only have writing, interviewing and editing talent but also possesses  tactfulness when dealing with “sensitive” writers.

Author Spotlight no.38 – Miranda Newboult

Dear Morgan, Please review “My Name is Butterfly” book on Amazon . A charming book of a young girl in her garden who discovers the world of butterflies. Author Mary Ellen Ryall; Illustrator Stevie Marie Aubuchon-Mendoza.

Morgen 'with an E' Bailey

Complementing my daily blog interviews, today’s Author Spotlights, the thirty-eighth, is of children’s author and interviewee Miranda Newboult.

Miranda lives in East Sussex with her partner, three children (one of whom is a very recent addition to the family) and an ever-growing collection of animals.  The headcount easily exceeds thirty and some days are an endless round of feeding and watering.  “Everywhere I turn there is someone else standing there with their mouth open hopefully” she jokes.

Miranda graduated in 1991 with a degree in English and Related Literature from York.  The experience put her off reading for years.  When she eventually regained her childhood pleasure in reading she also discovered whole new genres unheard of in the hallowed halls of university.  Chick Lit, Crime, Adventure, Fantasy – her shopping basket suddenly overflowed with novels that held no place on a dusty academic course.  Yee-hah, the passion had come back!

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The Atmosphere of Writing

Building the publishing spiderweb.



The act of reading allows a person’s soul to escape under any number of spheres. There is the sphere of setting, the sphere of tone, and the atmosphere. Characters and events are flavored by these things, and you can call those spheres if you like. However, the base of any story, fiction or non-fiction, is based around the former three categories.

I think setting and tone are more self-explanatory than the atmosphere. The atmosphere, to me, is what readers can best remember—if the atmosphere is truly memorable. When I say atmosphere, I suppose I mean the mentality we readers are walked through (or thrust into, or subtly caged by, or even kidnapped blindly and set whirling at the release of our proverbial blindfolds). The setting and tone of a work obviously contributes to mentality, but the atmosphere is even more intangible than the tone, which may be explained by…

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Lori Pirone a young Visual Artist in Brooklyn, NY creates Video

Lori Pirone, Brooklyn, NY, and I spoke sometime after August 26, 2011. She had read my book My Name is Butterfly online through Amazon. Lori asked my advice about publishing and she mailed me a copy of her work titled Transform. The Visual Art script wanted critiquing . I read it and gave a few suggestions about the content in its relationship to butterflies.

I suggested Lori learn how to create a Blog in order to start publishing. She created a Visual Arts Blog that expresses her complex thoughts and added visual art, music and poetry to the mix. I am amazed at how quickly she adapted and is using media. poetry and music to create Resurrection. I am enchanted with her work.

It reminds me of youth today of which Lori is one. They are questioning what the world has to offer them and future generations? I can feel their questions about society. There is a disconnect between what youth of today are experiencing in a global economic meltdown and what 1 percent of the population experiences in  an economic divide.  I think perhaps Resurrection speaks to the Occupy Movement.

Many kindred spirits are connected in a spider web of primitive knowledge. We have resonated the vibration and learned much from ancestors and Native Americans who have co-existed along side of dominant society for hundreds if not thousands of years. They do not assimilate and either do we.

We are all connected to each other and the forest, plants, fish, birds, animals, water and sky. We are all part of a primitive Earth that is a virtual Garden of Eden. We want to preserve it and leave a footprint of peace, economic wellness and nature for future generations.

I believe that Lori is just at the tip of sharing her introspection of the world through her eyes and Visual Arts . I expect great things of her. This young woman is talented. Keep your eye on Lori and her Blog at