The enchantment of MacKay's cut-paper artwork is somewhere between paper dolls, shadow puppets and Joseph Cornell boxes, all with an Art Nouveau vibe…Each intricately detailed page is like some tiny, delicate stage set, with a blurred background suggesting an even wider world beyond.
The New York Times Book Review - Maria Russo
As in her previous books, MacKay (Shadow Chasers) builds this story around characters and scenery she paints, cuts out, and then photographs with dramatic lighting; they sparkle with genuine, fairy-tale charm. This tale stars a dark-haired girl whose elfin shoes, red petal dress, and balletic poses give her a pixie-ish air. She has moved from the country to the city, and she discovers an extravagant, Art Nouveau–style gate next to her new house. “Butterfly Park,” it reads. “The girl repeated the letters. Suddenly, she felt very lucky!” But where are the park’s butterflies? A butterfly chase takes the girl and a growing group of children through the city’s alleyways and up its staircases, but capturing butterflies won’t work forever. Her new neighbors enlighten her: gardening is the way to attract butterflies. A bravura foldout shows Butterfly Park now crowded with plants, flowers, friends, and butterflies. Though the prose is of the greeting-card variety (“everyone planted until the park was brimming with flowers and laughter”), MacKay’s artwork recreates the feel and pleasure of Edwardian-era illustration, and lovers of picture-book fantasy will embrace it. Ages 3–up. (May)
"Each intricately detailed page is like some tiny, delicate stage set, with a blurred background suggesting an even wider world beyond.”
The New York Times Bookshelf
"Centered on the park's elaborate art nouveau gateway, MacKay's lyrical paper collage and diorama constructs feature layered details and out-of-focus backgrounds for a sense of depth. Brightly patterned butterflies, delicate flowers, and human figures pose like gracefully off-balance dancers. . . . Worthy of theme and equally pleasing to the eye and the spirit."
"MacKay's artwork recreates the feel and pleasure of Edwardian-era illustration, and lovers of picture-book fantasy will embrace it.”
"The settings are intricate-the Butterfly Park entrance gate is a thing of beauty-and MacKay's sense of composition is spot-on.”
"The real treat here is the art. MacKay in in top form, and readers will delight in the mix of colours, textures, and perspectives she employs in creating the visual elements of this lovely book.”
Quill and Quire
K-Gr 2—A nameless girl is sad to leave the butterflies when her family moves from a rural house to the city. Luckily, her new house is next door to Butterfly Park, but she finds the park barren of butterflies. She enlists the help of other children to catch butterflies and bring them to the park, but they always fly away again. Chasing the stubborn insects, the children realize that flowers will attract them, and they all pitch in to replant the park. The story concludes happily with a beautified park and the girl feeling right at home. The text of this story is its weakest element, while the artwork shines. The plot is standard picture book fare, but the writing is vague, awkward, and a bit coy. The 3-D "lightbox dioramas," on the other hand, are beautifully creative and atmospheric. Painted paper figures are placed into constructed scenery, lit dramatically, and photographed. Each page glows with jewel tones, and the final spread is a gatefold that displays the neighborhood's proud transformation. As a bonus, the book's dust jacket has a "Plant your own butterfly garden" poster printed on the inside, showing flowers that will attract butterflies. VERDICT A good fit for larger collections, especially those that emphasize gardening or ecology.—Heidi Estrin, Congregation B'nai Israel, Boca Raton, FL
A child newly arrived from the country is dismayed to discover that the pocket park next to her urban building is, despite its name, lacking butterflies.What to do? Even the butterflies that she, with help from neighboring children, captures and brings to the sterile-looking park flutter away immediately…except for one, which leads her and a growing group of city residents through the streets to a small patch of flowers. Of course! The next day everyone shows up at the park with "boots and gnomes and wagons"—and in time, as revealed in a climactic double gatefold bedizened with blooms as well as winged and human visitors, the butterflies come. Centered on the park's elaborate art nouveau gateway, MacKay's lyrical paper collage and diorama constructs feature layered details and out-of-focus backgrounds for a sense of depth. Brightly patterned butterflies, delicate flowers, and human figures pose like gracefully off-balance dancers. As the atmosphere is, overall, ethereal (underscored by occasional close-ups of the girl's elfin features and abstracted gaze), this is more a visually poetic tale about bringing nature to the city than a practical blueprint for creating a crowd-sourced flower garden. Still, like Kevin Henkes' My Garden (2010), it may spur young readers to green dreams of their own—and the jacket does offer a labeled gallery of butterfly-attracting blooms. Worthy of theme and equally pleasing to the eye and the spirit. (Picture book. 5-8)