Farfalla: A Story of Loss and Hope, by Vanita Oelschlager and Kristin Blackwood (Illustrator)
The story is told from the perspective of a young Beetle who, with his mother, meets a crowd of caterpillars in the garden they all frequent. Soon they become friends and he watches in awe as the caterpillars weave themselves into cocoons. A special one catches his attention and Beetle “adopts” it by making all sorts of plans of what they will do together when it hatches. Later, he watches as the cocoons break open one by one and beautiful butterflies emerge and fly away. But the one he counted on to be his playmate does not. He is deeply saddened and understandably confused. Beetle’s mother explains gently that young friends like his who can’t join him in the garden are with others in the sky. The story ends with Beetle waving to his friend above and wishing happiness.
Reading level: Ages 4 and up
Hardcover: 40 pages
Publisher: Vanita Books (September 1, 2012)
This is an interesting book for many reasons. It deals with an issue that most people find uncomfortable to address. Most people (myself included) rarely if ever talk to their kids about death or about what happens to a stillborn baby. Farfalla talks about this issue gently, giving hope and spreads a blanket of peace over the subject.
Many children have to deal with death. I am sure that everyone can think of someone (person or pet) that they knew as a child that passed away. It can be difficult and scary and very sad. Vanita Oelschlager’s story gives children a sense of understanding. She gently explains in a universal and non-religious way what happens when we die.
The illustrations: The artwork is beautiful. I like the bright colors and the way they contrast with the heavy black outlines. Blackwood has a lovely style that is well suited to both the story and the subject. My daughter loves this book because of the “pretty butterflies”.