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When the Butterflies Came

When the Butterflies Came

4.9 14
by Kimberley Griffiths Little

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A moving story of a young girl's struggle with love, loss, family, and magic from the beyond, from critically acclaimed author Kimberley Griffiths Little. Everybody thinks Tara Doucet has the perfect life. But Tara\u2019s life is anything but perfect: Her dear Grammy Claire has just passed away, her mom is depressed and distant, and she and her sister, Riley,


A moving story of a young girl's struggle with love, loss, family, and magic from the beyond, from critically acclaimed author Kimberley Griffiths Little. Everybody thinks Tara Doucet has the perfect life. But Tara\u2019s life is anything but perfect: Her dear Grammy Claire has just passed away, her mom is depressed and distant, and she and her sister, Riley, can\u2019t agree on anything. But when mysterious and dazzling butterflies begin to follow her around after Grammy Claire\u2019s funeral, Tara knows in her heart that her grandmother has left her one final mystery to solve. Tara finds a stack of keys and detailed letters from Grammy Claire. Note by note, Tara learns unexpected truths about her grandmother\u2019s life. As the letters grow more ominous and the clues harder to decipher, Tara realizes that the secrets she must uncover could lead to grave danger. And when Tara and Riley are swept away to the beautiful islands of Chuuk to hear their grandmother\u2019s will, Tara discovers the most shocking truth of all, one that will change her life forever. Kimberley Griffiths Little weaves a magical, breathtaking mystery full of loss and love, family and faith.

Editorial Reviews

Children's Literature - Sharon Salluzzo
Twelve-year-old Tara Doucet is distraught over her Grammy Claire's death. She feels alone in her grief; her mother suffers from depression, her older sister Riley is aloof, and her divorced father has moved far away. Moreover, the family can no longer afford the upkeep on the Bayou Bridge mansion that has been in her family for many generations. The first of the butterflies arrives the day after the funeral. Shortly thereafter, a mysterious envelope arrives for Tara with a series of instructions from her now-deceased Grammy. They lead Tara and Riley to Grammy's home in the South Pacific, where Tara learns that her grandmother was killed because of her scientific research on the butterflies from the island of Chuuk. Through the clues, Tara discovers the identity of the killer and the special power of the butterflies. Kimberley Griffiths Little leaves clues along the way for readers to follow in this intriguing environmental/medical mystery. The story is cleverly put together with several red herrings and a fine twist at the end. Good development of the storyline of the two sisters, as well as a budding romance between Tara and an island boy make this a fun read. Reviewer: Sharon Salluzzo
School Library Journal
Gr 4–7—Her beloved Granny's death leaves 12-year-old Tara with a trail of cryptic letters, clues, and keys having something to do with the unusual butterflies appearing in her family's run-down Louisiana mansion. So begins a choppy, too-big-too-be-true adventure ultimately encompassing the child's mother's nervous breakdown, her annoyingly clueless and self-centered dyed-blue-haired older sister, a British butler who arrives to do their bidding, a secret laboratory, and a blow-out finale on an exotic South Sea island…with a token cute boy. Despite the compelling central drama and many excellent descriptive passages, inconsistencies and unbelievable coincidences vie with stop-and-start action to frustrate readers, whose journey toward solving the mystery is kept in check by the meandering first-person narration of Tara, the "Pantene Princess." Readers would do better to stick with Jennifer Allison's "Gilda Joyce" books (Penguin).—Rhona Campbell, Georgetown Day School, Washington, DC
From the Publisher

"Little's rich, vivid prose and characterization create an intriguing universe in which realism and mysticism intertwine as the story's secrets unravel." --SCHOOL LIBRARY JOURNAL, starred review

"Readers will revel in the literary journey through a rare and unusual way of life."

"An incantational tale of Cajun magic and gators in the bayou and of the love and silence between mother and daughter." --Richard Peck, Newbery Award-winning author of A YEAR DOWN YONDER

"Little explores the extremes of childhood guilt and its consequences in this harsh yet well-crafted story about fully drawn people. The bayou, with its rich culture, is an atmospheric character that overlays the story with mystery and dread. A special offering for readers seeking a challenge of the heart as well as the mind." --BOOKLIST

Kirkus Reviews
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)

Product Details

Scholastic, Inc.
Publication date:
Sold by:
Scholastic, Inc.
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File size:
972 KB
Age Range:
8 - 12 Years

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Meet the Author

Kimberley Griffiths Little is the author of THE HEALING SPELL and CIRCLE OF SECRETS, as well as dozens of short stories that have appeared in numerous publications, and the novels BREAKAWAY, ENCHANTED RUNNER, and THE LAST SNAKE RUNNER. She is the winner of the Southwest Book Award. Kimberley lives near the banks of the Rio Grande in New Mexico in a solar adobe house with her husband and their three sons.

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When the Butterflies Came 4.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 14 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is a very wonderful book. My 10 year old daughter loved it! I will totaly recomend this book to anyone who loves butterflies
LBrockba More than 1 year ago
A wonderful book full of adventure and mystery. A great read for all ages, but especially tween girls. I especially loved the quotes about butterflies at the beginning of each chapter. Definitely this author's best book!
DNGiles More than 1 year ago
What a delightful, beautifully written mystery, full of grief, wonder, and discovery. Middle grade readers should love following Tara as she finds each key to the next clue as she fits together an elaborately created puzzle left behind by her beloved Grammy Claire. I loved getting to know Tara and Riley, and the friends they made throughout their travels, and I especially loved the settings. From the manor near the bayou in Louisiana, to the tree house on the island of Chuuk, the setting came alive for me. As did the butterflies. 
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Gramny claire died and left clues for tara to save the nipwisipwis. Grammy claire always planed things ahead. This is the best book ive ever read. Its a level v and im level r but i read it anyway. I understand everything. Nipwisipwis in chuuke language is butterfly. Im gonna call them nipwisipwis from now on. BEST BOOK EVER!!!! I reccomend you to reading it. Sincerely a 4th grader. Age 10
Anonymous 5 months ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is amazing. I love it soo much. This is a must read for thise of you who like mystery books. If you do like mysteries i can think of other books that you might enjoy. Peter and the starcatchers is a great one its like a peterpan series but its way cooler
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Tgis is definetly a must read book. It is full of grief, drama, mysteries, and love. The only flaw is that Tara repetitively repeats,"... and I am a girl who never..." Anybody who is full of mystery or grief should definetaly read this. Plenty of twist and turns! You will never expect the ending.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
People who like adventure and mystery shoule get this book it was a very good book
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I loved this book! It's so mysterious and heartpounding.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Amazing book! Totaly recomended!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I love the book so will you
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
this book is pretty good
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
i loved this book