Saving the Butterfly: A story about refugees (Hardcover)
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Two resourceful siblings begin a new life as refugees in a poetic picture book about thriving—in your own time—after great loss.
From an award-winning author and a talented debut illustrator comes a profound story about child refugees healing and building new lives. When rescuers meet the boat, there are only two people left—a big child and a little one. The big one, remembering the trip across the dark sea, hides indoors. The little one ventures out, making friends, laughing, growing strong. When he brings the outside in, in the form of a butterfly, will his sister find the courage to guide the winged creature back into the world where it belongs? Powerful illustrations dance between dark and light in a moving tale of empathy, resilience, and the universal need for home and safety.
About the Author
Helen Cooper is a renowned author and illustrator whose award-winning books for children include The Hippo at the End of the Hall and Pumpkin Soup, a Kate Greenaway Medal winner. She lives in England.
Gill Smith is a writer and illustrator who has explored collaborative storytelling in many forms. Saving the Butterfly is her debut picture book. She lives in England.
The idea that sometimes we can feel many complicated emotions all at once comes through loud and clear. . . . A layered story that humanizes the refugee experience.
Affecting and emotional. . . Gorgeously evocative and textured mixed-media illustrations are predominantly gray at the beginning and incorporate more and more bright colors as the children respond positively to their environment.
—The Horn Book
Smith's mixedmedia illustrations convey the story's many moods and motifs through color: inky blacks for the sea rescue; drab pastels for the camp; sunny yellows when the boy brings his sister the butterfly; and intense reds and oranges on the butterfly's wings. . . . this exploration of trauma and its aftereffects should open up discussion and encourage empathy.
Soft mottling and crayon-like textures anchor the art in a steady stillness, while the palette is used with care and precision, consistently balancing bright, vibrant shades with darkened inks and smudgy grays. This is certainly more somber than Marwan’s Where Butterflies Fill the Sky (BCCB 3/22), but pairing the two titles would make for a compelling exploration of rebuilding a life in an uncertain, and perhaps, unwanted, new home.
—The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books
Smith’s moody mixed-media illustrations smartly use color to convey the story’s tone, moving between shadowy and vividly hued images that mimic the sister’s emotional arc in a hopeful story about emotional processing after trauma.