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The Storybarn Selects… From The Reader Bookshelf

Written by Lily Kehoe, 1st October 2023

We're continuing to delve into the Children and Young People's Reader Bookshelf with a review of Helen Cooper's Saving the Butterfly by Criminal Justice Admin Assistant, Ranvia.

In a world where tumultuous times are hard to ignore, stories like Saving the Butterfly offer much needed sources of comfort and guidance to young readers. Illustrated by Gill Smith, Helen Cooper’s picture book depicts a powerful story of two siblings finding a new home after being rescued from a shipwreck in the cold dark sea. The younger sibling remembers little about their treacherous journey to safety, quickly making friends and learning to smile again, but his older sister is left grieved by their losses, and chooses to hide away in their broken house.

In an effort to assist his sister, the young child captures a butterfly and brings it indoors. His sister recognizes the need to release the butterfly, but this would entail venturing outdoors. By summoning the courage to confront her fears and liberate the butterfly, she initiates a journey of self-discovery and personal salvation.

It is important to note that there is no sugar-coated ending, no easy resolution, rather which it ends with a wish for the siblings to simply be allowed to play as any other child would.

The beautiful bright colours within the illustrations paired muted palettes, gives readers those tiny signs of hope, and light always existing within darkness as the older sibling gains courage.

Helen Cooper tells this story ever so sensitively, helping to promote questions and conversations as to why some families are forced to leave their homes, and the universal need for safety and shelter. While the story itself may not be explicitly about refugees, it can serve as a starting point for conversations with readers about empathy, kindness, and the value of supporting others, including those who may be refugees.

‘Saving the Butterfly’ is a poetic story that provides a safe space to explore complex emotions, foster emotional intelligence and help develop a sense of hope and optimism, even in difficult times. Such stories serve as a reminder that no matter the storms you encounter, you can emerge stronger and make a positive impact even through little acts of kindness and determination, making it a must-read for young readers in today’s turbulent world. It makes an important addition to this years ‘Weathering the Storm’ bookshelf. "

Saving the Butterfly is available to buy at The Reader Bookshop online.

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