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WHEN THE BUTTERFLIES CAME by Kimberley Griffiths Little


by Kimberley Griffiths Little

Age Range: 8 - 12

Pub Date: April 1st, 2013
ISBN: 978-0-545-42513-1
Publisher: Scholastic

The day following her grandmother’s funeral, butterflies begin visiting grieving 12-year-old Tara, who’s swept into a bizarre mystery involving her grandmother, butterflies and a small Pacific island.

Raised in a deteriorating Louisiana plantation house, Tara pretends her life is fine, but her impoverished Southern-belle mother hides from reality, her absent father has remarried, and her older sister is self-absorbed. When her beloved Grammy Claire dies unexpectedly, Tara feels like a “hole is shredding up” her heart. Then the first mysterious butterfly appears, followed by a special-delivery letter Grammy Claire wrote before she died. The letter leads Tara to Grammy’s house, where she finds 10 keys and more letters with cryptic clues urging her to protect the butterflies and trust no one. Progressing from clue to clue, Tara learns Grammy had made an amazing scientific discovery about the butterflies on Chuuk island, putting her life and the existence of the butterflies in peril. Suspense builds as Tara relies on her wits and follows her heart to Chuuk, where she risks all to save Grammy’s butterflies. Plucky Tara tells her implausible tale in a colloquial first person, present tense that slips occasionally, allowing readers to feel her grief, wonder, fear and surprise.

Inconsistent voice and implausibility aside, middle-grade readers should respond to this perplexing puzzle and its resourceful heroine. (Mystery. 8-12)