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The Picture Book Buzz

Butterfly on the Wind - Perfect Picture Book Friday

This is such a gorgeous and creative picture book. I love how Aurora's deafness doesn't define her. Instead, it's just part of who she is and an ingenious part of the solution to her stage fright problem.

Book cover -  A goung girl signing 'butterfly' is surrounded a swirling mass of sparkling butterflies.

Butterfly on the Wind

Author: Adam Pottle

Illustrator: Ziyue Chen

Publisher: Roaring Brook Press/Macmillan Childrens Publishing Group (2024)

Ages: 3 -6

Nonfiction


Themes:

Resilience, deafness, sign language, stage fright, self-confidence, and community.


Synopsis:

A magical picture book about a Deaf girl who creates a butterfly with Sign Language and sends it on a journey around the world.


On the day of the talent show, Aurora's hands tremble. No matter how hard she tries to sign, her fingers stumble over one another and the words just won't come. But as she’s about to give up, she spots a butterfly.

Using her hands to sign the ASL word for "butterfly," Aurora sends a magical butterfly of her own into the world, inspiring Deaf people across the globe to add their own. The butterflies grow in numbers and strength as they circle back to Aurora, bolstering her with the love and support of her worldwide Deaf community.


Deaf picture book creators author Adam Pottle and artist Ziyue Chen combine powerful text and sweeping art into a moving story of resilience and self-belief.


Opening Lines:

Aurora's hands trembled.

She sat on the bench in her family's garden, practicing the fairy tale

she'd written, saying the words with her hands. The school talent show

was the next day, and all the other students and their parents would

be watching her.


What I LOVED about this book:

Practicing for the school talent show, Aurora can't get the words to her fairy tale right, Her hands won't stop shaking. About to quit, she spots a butterfly and remembers something her father said, "butterfly wings create a wind the carries across the globe." Aurora creates a butterfly of her own using sign language and sends it out into the world.

Internal spread - on left, spot illustrations of young girl creating a faint butterfly by signing. On right the butterfly swoops past the town toward a farm, solidifying as it goes.

Text © Adam Pottle, 2024. Image © Ziyue Chen, 2024.


I love how, as the butterfly flies away from Auroa, the soft, gentle etherealness of the butterfly slowly solidifies as it finally reaches a farm. Ziyue Chen gorgeously captures the magic and wonder of this signed butterfly as it swoops across the page. When it reaches the farm, Milos marvels at the magic and adds his own signed butterfly, whipping "up a stronger wind, that blew...and blew..." the butterflies toward a mountain cabin, where a girl and her grandmother added their own two butterflies and increased the wind carrying all the butterflies toward the ocean.

Internal spread - on left spot illustrations of a grandmother and girl signing. On right, the grandmother and girl create their own two butterflies to join the other's.

Text © Adam Pottle, 2024. Image © Ziyue Chen, 2024.


This is such a fun cumulative story where everyone Aurora's butterfly encounters increase the number of butterflies and the strength of the wind. Unfortunately, when these four butterflies made it to the ocean, their wind could only carry them halfway across and they started sinking into the sea. Nika tries to help. Adding her own butterfly and trying to increase the wind to save them. Fortunately, she was on a ship with her family. And when they all help, six more butterflies join, and the family's wind helps lift the waterlogged original four and carry them all across the ocean to a small town. I love the ribbon of light, sparkles, and multicolored butterflies as a visually unifying element of wonder and connection throughout the book; it is truly magical.

Internal spread - expanding from a boat in the left background, a swiriling group of 8 butterflies fly off the page.

Text © Adam Pottle, 2024. Image © Ziyue Chen, 2024.


Discovering more people, the kaleidoscope of butterflies expands to 18 and the resulting wind forms "a tornado of butterflies" which .... got you hooked? I hope so, because the ending is powerful, endearing, and gorgeous; one you don't want to miss. This is a magnificent book which addresses a child's stage fright and nerves anthrough the lens of sign language and the "central symbol of deaf culture" - the butterfly. As Pottle's notes at the end, butterflies "symbolize our community's strength and unique beauty." And I love the inclusion of the sign language alphabet at the end. A spectacular and beautiful story full of heart, a touch of magic, and lots of joy.


Resources:

Photo of 5 of 25 butterfly crafts
  • make a butterfly ring (or a couple) and using sign language create your own swirling wind of strength and beauty. Then try some of the other butterfly crafts, too.


  • if you get nervous or fear talking in public, what do you do to calm yourself?

  • check out some of the different signs for butterfly from around the world.


  • pair this with Dancing Hands: A Story of Friendship in Filipino Sign Language by Joanna Que and Charina Marquez, illustrated by Fran Alvarez.


If you missed the fun interview with Adam Pottle and Ziyue Chen on Monday, find it (here).


This post is part of a series by authors and KidLit bloggers called Perfect Picture Book Fridays. For more picture book suggestions and resources see Susanna Leonard Hill's Perfect Picture Books.

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Maria Marshall

 Photograph © A. Marshall

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