Children's LiteratureButterflies are beautiful and colorful creatures that quietly flutter through the air. According to this tale, however, butterflies were not always colorful or silent. At one time, they were all bland colors and they were so loud that people would literally hold their hands over their ears to shield them from the noise. Hundreds, perhaps thousands of butterflies would cluster together in trees. All day long they would complain and argue. It was a sudden and powerful bolt of lightening that transformed the butterflies. The strength of the lightening knocked the butterflies into the mud. As they slowly began to emerge, they discovered that their wings were touched with brilliant and glowing colors. From that moment on everything in the forest, particularly the attitude of the butterflies, changed for the better. The numerous illustrations are distinctive and picturesque. 2001, Orchard Books/Scholastic, $16.95. Ages 5 to 9. Reviewer: Denise Daley
School Library Journal - School Library JournalK-Gr 4-This original folktale describes a wilderness filled with the loud and incessant "hoots and roars, screeches and yowls" of animals. Surprisingly, the noisiest, most annoying sounds come from the drab-colored butterflies, as they flit around bragging about themselves, or rest in a Bingalou tree and argue with one another. They even attack two children who come too close to their roost. During an intense storm, lightning strikes the tree and the insects are thrown into the mud. When they recover, they look around for the very first time and notice the beauty of their surroundings. They also discover that their wings have taken on the colors of a rainbow. This magical transformation jars the butterflies into a reverent silence. The animals enjoy the peace, and the children return to admire the dazzling insects that glide on "silent wings." Although a bit long, the story is well written and the language is evocative. Painted in watercolor and then manipulated in Photoshop, the delicate artwork is filled with vibrant colors. The animals gracefully move across pastel backgrounds, and the brightly hued flowers and lush green leaves are equally eye-catching. Many of the images are placed around the borders of the pages, making room for the big blocks of text. Although the tale may be a bit too quiet for some children, there is a lot to think about here, as the butterflies make their metamorphosis from self-absorbed and unattractive creatures into beautiful beings who have learned to look out instead of in.-Joy Fleishhacker, formerly at School Library Journal Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Kirkus ReviewsDavol (The Loudest, Fastest, Best Drummer in Kansas, 2000, etc.) spins an original pourquoi tale of when the world was young and butterflies were dressed in dull colors, earth-tones of browns and grays and washed-out pinks and purples. The butterflies were chatty, noisy creatures that couldn't stop commenting on everything they saw and they were the loudest in a land of loud animals. A sudden thunderstorm and bolt of lighting splits the butterflies' tree in half, stunning them into silence. In the silent aftermath of the storm, as the sun warmed their wings, the butterflies began to glow with color, "gold of the sun, the blue of the sky, and all the colors of the rainbow." In awe, they stopped shouting at each other and flew away on silent wings, and the rest of the animals quieted down, too. While the story doesn't soar, it's the breathtaking art that sets this apart. Roth's (Mama Provi and the Pot of Rice, 1997, etc.) exquisitely detailed, naturalistic watercolor paintings of wildflowers, sunflowers, poppies, allium, tiger lilies, and daisies shimmer on the page. Monkeys swing over the top of double-paged spreads as hyenas, elephants, giraffes, and zebras stroll across the bottom. A lovely appeal for quiet contemplation of nature's gifts. (Picture book. 5-8)
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