Friday 15 December 2023

Butterfly Girl

Butterfly Girl
by Ashling Kwok, illustrated by Arielle Li (EK Books) HB RRP $24.99 ISBN: 9781922539564

Reviewed by Dannielle Viera

In the country, Olivia has a bevy of beautiful butterflies to keep her company. But when she moves to the cheerless city, her fluttering friends cannot find her. She waits and whirls, sings and swirls … yet she is still alone. An idea strikes Olivia – she needs to fill her balcony garden ‘with her butterflies’ favourite things’. Her neighbours follow suit, and soon the air is alive with ‘butterflies dancing across the sky’, as well as the happy chatter of new friends bonding over the wonders of nature.

Ideal for kids aged four to eight, Ashling Kwok’s light and lovely tale explores the power of empathy to build connections that banish loneliness. Olivia’s affinity for the butterflies attracts the attention of nearby residents, opening lines of communication within the apartment complex. The neighbours cultivate not only colourful gardens, but also a vibrant community. At the end of the book, Ashling has included easy-to-follow instructions so youngsters can grow their own butterfly garden.

Arielle Li uses subtle changes in hue to convey the emotional journey within the story. Olivia’s initial joy is reflected in the verdant country garden and vivid insects hovering around her; her city isolation is cloaked in browns and greys. But Arielle gives the reader a reason to hope for a positive outcome. Throughout the book, Olivia continues to wear pink – a sign of kindness and compassion. And the readers’ faith is rewarded when Olivia inspires the transformation of drab balconies into lush oases, and a bounty of brilliant wings flit into view.

Children will come away from Butterfly Girl with a new appreciation of nature as a source of healing and harmony. When we construct a chrysalis of care around us, we metamorphose into humans with heart.

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