May 05, 2015

Alighting in a new home

illustrated by Elly MacKay
Review by

It takes a village, as they say, and in this case it takes one to help a young girl feel right at home.

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It takes a village, as they say, and in this case it takes one to help a young girl feel right at home.

A girl moves from the country to the city, where “instead of birds and crickets, she heard horns and trains.” Her new home may be “plain and gray,” like all the houses around her, but it happens to be next to a park, the same park of the book’s title. The girl misses the butterflies most about her home in the country, but when she enters the park to seek butterflies, none are there, despite the plate of cookies she’s brought to make a good first impression.  

She enlists the help of newfound friends, who snag some butterflies—but they all fly away. One, however, leads them all downtown, where doors are opened and curious townsfolk step out to join the butterfly search. After the girl sees flowers on her neighborhood romp, she is inspired to take flowers to the abandoned park. Once again, she fails to spot butterflies, but when her neighbors show up with flowers for planting, she realizes she’s finally at home. She’s found that she lives in a community of people who care about her, as well as about making their own town a place where things grow and thrive. They plant until the park is “brimming with flowers and laughter.”

Elly MacKay constructs this story with delicate cut-paper illustrations, sets of photographed dioramas that glow with light. The settings are intricate—the Butterfly Park entrance gate is a thing of beauty—and MacKay’s sense of composition is spot-on. Many moments in the story spread across two pages, and she avoids any of her paper pieces getting lost in the book’s gutter. The final spread is a gatefold, which opens up to reveal the new-and-improved park, filled with just the creatures the girl longs to see: Colorful butterflies fill the space, but best of all, it’s filled with the warmth of a community that cares.


Julie Danielson features authors and illustrators at Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast, a children’s literature blog.

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Butterfly Park

Butterfly Park

illustrated by Elly MacKay
Running Press
ISBN 9780762453399

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