Wednesday 14 February 2024

Yellow Butterfly

Yellow Butterfly by Oleksandr Shatokhin (Red Comet Press), HB RRP $32.99 ISBN 9781636550640

The author illustrator of this picture book says on the back cover, ‘Every Ukrainian is working and doing their best to bring victory over the Russian terrorists. As an illustrator, I am committed to doing my part. My book is about faith, hope, and the belief that after the war, after our victory, life will go on, everything will be restored, and we will live in a new peaceful Ukraine. The memories of those who died in this war will help us heal. And yellow butterflies will flutter freely in free Ukraine.’

A portion of the proceeds from the sale of Yellow Butterfly will be donated to the Universal Reading Foundation who send children’s books to Ukraine.

There are only two main colours used in this book – black and yellow, but towards the end there is blue, too. So, this is a book of symbolism and dramatic imagery, a deeply emotional response to the war in Ukraine. The pages in black are depressing – a double page spread of blackness, followed by pages and pages of barbed wire. Then there’s a white outline of a girl behind the wire. More wire. And then the girl running, tripping. And falling. When she comes to consciousness, there’s finally some colour – she sees a yellow butterfly. She follows the insect, past black barricades until she sees a man holding aloft lots of birds. But then he disappears into a hole.

Children are playing, but further on bombs are falling. In the darkness, the girl sees a swarm of yellow butterflies. But wait – there is blue! But no, here again are black, wrecked vehicles. More barbed wire. But the butterflies keep appearing…

This is a difficult wordless picture book for young children to comprehend in any way but emotionally. At the end of the book are instructions for an adult on how to share a wordless picture book, and how to guide conversation about it. There’s no doubt that most children would easily dismiss this dark book unless they are guided by a caring adult. It is difficult to imagine that this book would be picked up by any child: it is so depressing.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Buzz Words Books would love to hear what you think.