Saving The Butterfly by Helen Cooper & Gill Smith

Saving The Butterfly is a poignant picture book that gives an insight into the experiences and emotional trauma suffered by child refugees. It pulls at the heartstrings as it tells the story of a brother and sister coming to terms with their new life. But a brightly coloured butterfly brings hope and symbolises a new beginning…

Saving The Butterfly - Story Snug

The Story: A girl and her younger brother are rescued from a boat and brought to shelter. The little boy doesn’t remember much but the sister is haunted by her memories. While her brother makes friends and has fun she hides in their broken house. But one day the boy brings a butterfly home which leads to the beginning of the girl’s healing process…

The absence of parental figures adds to the heartwrenching situation that the children are in. Strangers treat them with kindness and give them shelter but they live on their own with memories of the past and an uncertain future. After a while the boy barely thinks about his previous life and is eager to help his sister move on too.

But it is the brightly coloured butterfly that stimulates the beginning of the girl’s healing process and helps her start to reconnect with her brother and their new world.

Gill Smith’s fabulous illustrations complement Helen Cooper’s lyrical, easy to read text. Splashes of colour on dark backgrounds symbolise emotional states, throughout the story the boy wears a bright yellow jacket in contrast to the subdued colours of their surroundings. The characters’ facial expressions effectively convey their feelings and emotions and add to the poignancy of the text.

Saving The Butterfly is a wonderful book to introduce children to the situation that young refugees face. It can stimulate discussions about why families may need to leave their homes, how families can become separated and the ways in which we can show kindness and offer support.

Age Range: 4+

Author: Helen Cooper / Illustrator: Gill Smith

Thank you to Walker Books for sending a copy of this beautifully thought provoking book. You can read more about Saving The Butterfly in this interview with Helen Cooper.

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