THE BUTTERFLY by Patricia Polacco
Kirkus Star

THE BUTTERFLY

by & illustrated by
Age Range: 6 - 10
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KIRKUS REVIEW

During the Nazi occupation of France, Monique discovers that a young Jewish girl named Serine has been hidden in her cellar. It is a surprise to Monique that her mother and father have been sheltering the family, but she does not let on that she knows. The girls visit and play together in the evening when the rest of the household is asleep. “They laughed and giggled, and told each other their dreams.” Although frightened by the presence of Nazi soldiers in her village, their friendship grows, and Monique brings gifts to Serine from the outside world: rich soil, a bright flower, and finally a real wonder, a butterfly. A neighbor catches a glimpse of Serine, and the family must flee. This is another one of Polacco’s (Thank You Mr. Falker, 1998) family stories based on real events and retold in a dramatic picture book for older readers. The strikingly detailed marker and pencil illustrations bring forth the fear, deprivation, and small joys of the time. The richness of the illustrations from the blue-patterned teacups to the gallery of dog portraits that adorn a staircase evokes a strong sense of time and place. Polacco uses a palette of pinks and pastels that are quickly overshadowed by grays, black, and red to evoke Monique’s growing realizations of the oppression, danger, and darkness of the moment. A strong contrast comes at the end when hope returns in the form of dozens of bright orange-and-black butterflies. Polacco’s choice of monarchs to depict the butterflies emphasizes the miraculous nature of this occurrence because, although these butterflies are abundant in North America, they are rarely sighted in Europe. A portrait of friendship, courage, and hope.(Picture book. 6-10)

Pub Date: May 1st, 2000
ISBN: 0-399-23170-6
Page count: 48pp
Publisher: Philomel
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1st, 2000




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