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THE PRINCE OF BUTTERFLIES by Bruce Coville

THE PRINCE OF BUTTERFLIES

By Bruce Coville (Author) , John Clapp (Illustrator)

Age Range: 6 - 9

Pub Date: April 1st, 2001
ISBN: 0-15-201454-3
Publisher: Harcourt

The prolific, multitalented Coville (Half-Human, 2001, etc.) takes off in a different direction with this unusual story of a boy who bonds with a migrating flock of monarch butterflies, emphasizing so strongly with their plight of diminishing habitat that he actually briefly becomes one of them. The boy, John Farrington, leads the butterflies to a new habitat, and repeats his unusual transformation (from boy to butterfly and back again) several times until he leaves for college to become an entomologist. Farrington, presumably a historical figure, becomes a butterfly researcher (though he can’t bear to collect specimens) and was instrumental in the successful passage of the “Butterfly Road” bill in Congress, helping to preserve monarchs as a species. The rather long story concludes with Farrington as an elderly, wheelchair-bound man, visited by a swarm of monarchs who carry him away in one final transforming moment. Clapp (Right Here On This Spot, 1999, etc.) provides magical, misty watercolor illustrations that turn a rather unbelievable story into a meaningful fairy tale with an ecological message and a comforting, metaphorical view of life after death. Some will find this story lightweight and sentimental; others will see the trajectory of meaning inherent in a committed life. (Picture book. 6-9)