Suzanne Barton, The Butterfly Dance, Bloomsbury, March 2017, 32pp., $22.99 (hbk), ISBN: 9781408864845
Who doesn’t like butterflies? With their magnificent colours, their gentle, fluttering presence brings happiness to everyone. The magical transformation from crawly caterpillar to flowery flight captures the imagination, and has featured in many picture books, not least The Very Hungry Caterpillar.
Suzanne Barton uses the metamorphosis of caterpillar friends Dotty and Stripe as the basis for this story about friendship, difference, and being happy with who you are. The two friends have always done everything together, but when they wake after a snuggly nap in their cocoons, they realise for the first time that they look different to each other. Perhaps they should no longer play together, and instead play with butterflies of a similar pattern to their own?
Happily, Dotty and Stripe realise that appearance does not determine who we are or who we should spend time with, and this realisation is depicted with a stunning two page spread of the meadow, where all the butterflies happily play together.
Barton’s artwork, a combination of collage, drawing and painting is inspired by Japanese prints and vintage papers. The text swirls across the page, complementing the bright colours and variety of textures. This beautiful book will be particularly popular with readers from 3-7 years of age. It would be lovely to share at storytime in the library or at home, and would easily inspire collage and papercraft activities. View the development of the illustrations at Suzanne Barton’s website.
Reviewed by Kay Oddone