Picture Books – Butterfly, Butterfly

Lucy sees a beautiful butterfly, and plays with it for the afternoon. The next day she can’t find her butterfly, though she does see many other colorful insects and invertebrates in the garden. At last, her butterfly appears, in a burst of pop-up color.

Children’s books about butterflies are like books about dinosaurs: inevitable and abundant. This one is particularly appealing in part because of the fantastic pop-up butterfly that appears at the end. Since the rest of the book does not feature pop-ups, the last page spread is a delightful surprise, and I have seen children laugh out loud again and again as the butterfly appears to fly right out of the book. Librarians tend to be very wary of pop-ups in library books, since they are often fragile and likely to rip, but this book is a bit sturdier than most I’ve seen. (In fact, the page opposite the pop-up section ripped, leaving the pop-up whole.)

Another stand-out feature for this book is the use of color. All of the pictures, which were done in acrylic, are very bright, without feeling day-glo or false. The author was clearly hoping to use the book partly as a primer on colors, since Lucy’s encounters with invertebrates always mention the colors of the animal she’s found. The illustrations have an energetic feeling to them, with colors bleeding slightly outside of lines, or visible brush strokes creating a sense of movement and activity. The one negative comment I can make is that there is very little white space. The black text is generally set against the colored background. While this works effectively in a bright yellow scene, when the text is set against the green grass or blue sky, it could make it difficult for a person with visual impairments to make out the words.

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