Joyce Hoberg Kaatz’s love of the outdoors led to her first book, “Raising Little Stripe.”
The family-friendly story blends “an enchanting story of a caterpillar named Little Stripe that grows into a butterfly with easy, step-by-step directions on how to identify, nurture and raise a monarch,” according to Austin Macauley Publishers.
Kaatz splits her time between her home on the prairie in Sioux Falls, S.D. and her lake cabin near Park Rapids.
“I like gardening a lot anyhow and wherever I go I find gardens,” she said, crediting her passion to growing up in the farming community of Ortonville, Minn. As a child, she raised caterpillars.
At her Sioux Falls home, her neighbors would stop by to admire her garden “because I would be outside all the time.” They noticed her monarch caterpillars in a glass jar.
“They’d say, ‘What’s this?’ and I started talking to them about it,” she recalled.
Kaatz would offer quick, easy tips to those who wanted to raise their own monarchs, “but they’d forget a step and didn’t do very well, so I started writing down steps. I thought, ‘There must be some sort of book or pamphlet on this,’ and there wasn’t.”
Kaatz decided to combine a fictional story with a how-to guide on caring for monarchs – from egg to butterfly.
“It really is a book for the whole family because it has steps in it that people haven’t heard before,” Kaatz said. For example, the first generation only lives a few weeks, but the last generation migrates to Mexico.
Describing her book as a “toolbox,” Kaatz said, “It is aimed at every age group, and both tells a story and educates about the specifics of planting gardens, milkweed and the miracle of monarchs.”
She rears several generations of monarchs each summer, beginning in May when she collects the eggs or a caterpillar from her garden where she grows milkweed. “It’s a hobby that goes all summer long,” Kaatz said. “It’s a very cheap hobby.”
All it requires is a jar and netting.
When Kaatz returns to Minnesota, she brings along her jars of emerging monarchs. “One will be in a chrysalis, one still needs milkweed,” she said, adding, “My husband is pretty patient about it.” There are often four jangling, rattling jars during the six-hour car ride.
Kaatz worked on the book over the course of several summers. It was released in January 2021. She said she “refined my approaches, read the research, talked to experts and created the book. It is a happy product of all of that, coupled with the delightful story of the book’s star, a butterfly named Little Stripe.”
She hopes state and national parks, schools, Scouts, 4-H clubs and others will utilize the book.
Experts promote starting gardens and creating flyways to support butterflies, Kaatz said. “Raising a few monarchs out of their natural environment is accepted as being valuable to teach people to love nature and connect them with the natural world,” she said. “In the book, we talk about the idea of saving the world with baby steps, and you can start in your own backyard. I love that.”
“Raising Little Stripe” is available at www.austinmacauley.com. Ben Franklin in Park Rapids also carries the book. For large quantities and a bulk discount, Kaatz recommends contacting the publisher directly at 646-512-5767 or firstname.lastname@example.org.