Australian author Ashling Kwok likes to create children’s stories that speak to the heart. This picture book is about heart matters – the love of butterflies, loneliness, having to make new friends and dealing with change. The Taiwanese-Australian illustrator Arielle Li has used her talents in filling the pages with illustrations that reflect the heart matters. As the pages are turned, the colours change from bright and magical to dark and lonely and then…. the brightness returns.
Olivia loves her country garden because it is full of colourful butterflies. On sunny days they danced and whirled, and fluttered and twirled. But everything changed when she and her mother, packed and moved to an apartment in the city. Her mother said she would make new friends. Olivia waited for her new friends to find her. But no one ever came. Not even her butterfly friends. There was no garden, only a dull balcony. Her idea to plant a garden would soon attract not only butterflies but neighbours as well. Soon all the balconies in the apartment block are ablaze with colour and happy people. And the butterflies just kept coming.
There is limited text on each page, but together with the illustrations and choice of colour, the reader is taken on Olivia’s emotional journey. The butterflies in all their colour and magic only appear at the beginning and end of the book. The middle pages are at times dull with flickers of colour as the garden on the balconies slowly expand and the people congregate to watch the butterflies visit in greater and greater numbers.
For those who want to build a butterfly friendly garden, Olivia has some good tips on the back end pages.
This is a beautiful book for four- to eight-year-olds and is a timely story as we are all encouraged to create gardens to attract those beneficial and beautiful insects.