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The Children's Books: Butterfly Child - January 15, 2023


Butterfly Child is written in an easy style and illustrated with hundreds of colorful details by Marc Majewski. It’s a compelling picture book about being creative and standing your ground against bullying.

The opening pages show the child working on a set of wings, putting them on, going outside and letting the love of free movement literally take over. “When I open my wings…I spin and swirl and twist and twirl and flutter and flap.” The tall shape of this book allows the illustrations to capture the beauty of the child’s dancing.

However, a group of children with a red ball intentionally interferes with the butterfly wings causing the wings to break and the dancing child to fall. When bullying starts the child demands that they STOP and goes home to build new wings with the help of an understanding Papa.

When Butterfly child goes out to fly again, the troublemakers now respect him. In fact, one of them decides to join the swirling, twirling fun. They all learn that playing together is better than bullying.

This book is beautifully adorned with flowers and charming pictures that tell the reader all about how the child plays, draws, paints, and enjoys being creative. Bright orange and yellow colors move across the pages scattering visual joy throughout the book.

Butterfly Child written and illustrated by Marc Majewski is designed for children 4-8 years of age (Katherine Tegen Books/ an imprint of Harper Collins Publishers) 2022.

The Children’s Bookshelf is a production of WCMU. Links to the podcast and the Activity Questions can be found at Children’s Bookshelf dot org.

 Activity Questions for Butterfly Child

Younger children: Take a close look at the first double page illustration. It is full of great details that reveal how the child spends his time. Please find the following items: a black cat, a yellow sunflower, many white dots, a green vase, a sprinkling can, a brown paintbrush, a pair of scissors with black handles, a red colored pencil, a yellow duck, a pair of glasses and, not one drawing but the drawings of five orange butterflies. You can do it!

Older children: Please answer the following questions. You may look through the book again as many times as you need to answer these questions. Who named the child butterfly child? What illustration is your favorite? Why? What do the words pick, patch, stitch and sew refer to in this story? What was the final touch that Papa placed on butterfly child’s head before the child ventured outside again? What do the many pages of beautiful flowers have to do with this story? At the end of the story who decides to join the butterfly child?

Take another look at the two pages where the Butterfly child is dancing. Then, in an open space try out the movements you see in the pictures such as a spin, a swirl, a twist, a twirl, a flutter, and a flap. HAVE FUN!

Sue Ann Martin is professor emerita of Communication and Dramatic Arts and the founding and past Dean of the College of Communication and Fine Arts at Central Michigan University, Mt. Pleasant, Michigan. She first became interested in children’s literature when she wrote her PhD thesis on the oral characteristics of the Caldecott Award-winning children’s books. Her PhD is in Speech and Interpretation with a cognate in Early Childhood Education. She went on to review children’s books for the Detroit Free Press, write three popular resource books for teachers regarding children’s books and the creative process. She also reviewed newly-published books for Arts Almanac specials on WCMU Public Radio. Her 2002 children’s books special for WCMU won a Merit Award in Special Interest Programming from the Michigan Association of Broadcasters.