Thursday 2 November 2023

Butterfly Girl

Butterfly Girl by Ashling Kwok & Arielle Li (EK Books) PB HB RRP $24.99 9781922539564

Reviewed by Karen Hendriks

Ashling Kwok is a talented Sydney-based children’s author who writes heart centred stories. Arielle Li is a Taiwanese-Australia illustrator who lives in Adelaide and started her career in 2019. She has illustrated two other picture books for EK Books.

Olivia’s best friends are butterflies. She can’t imagine her world ever being without them. Everything changes when Olivia and Mum move to the city. Even her singing doesn’t bring the butterflies back until Olivia’s heart flutters with an idea.

Ashling Kwok’s words bring the beauty of butterflies and nature to life. The title is catchy and the opening sentence creates warmth and delight. Olivia only had butterfly friends. Whenever she sang to them, they came. Kwok takes the reader into Olivia’s world and lets them feel her love for butterflies. On sunny days, they danced and whirled, and fluttered and twirled. Her sentences are simple and effective and allow the story to be felt. Still her butterfly friends stayed away.

Thoughtful language matches the butterfly theme and Olivia’s dance movements mirror butterflies. She danced and whirled…and fluttered… and twirled. The words allow plenty of room for the illustrations and the ending suits the story perfectly. But there was always room for more in Olivia’s butterfly world. The backmatter adds value with thoughtful instructions on how to grow a butterfly garden.

Arielle Li’s soft gentle illustration style suit this story. The cover is soft and pretty in pastels and really draws the eye. The joy of butterflies is instantly felt. Butterflies fill spreads in fluttery arrays and Oliva is shown as a thoughtful caring girl. Golden hair, soft brown eyes, and short pink overalls. The illustrations Li has created use different colour shades and light for Olivia and the butterflies to be the focus. She also makes great use of different perspectives. I love the double page spread that looks down on the balcony from an angle. The white space and vignettes and page spreads all work well with the story arc. 

Butterfly Girl is a picture book story for 3-8 years that celebrates the beauty of butterflies and nature. Butterflies are popular with children and this story is sure to be too. This gorgeous book will appeal to children, parents, educators, and libraries.


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