A Thousand White Butterflies

Charlesbridge. Jan. 2021. 40p. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9781580895774.
PreS-Gr 1–There’s a lot to look forward to on the first day of school, but not necessarily for Isabella. She’s recently immigrated from Colombia to the United States with her mother and grandmother. Her father is still in South America, “waiting for permission to travel.” Isabella’s family doesn’t have a firm grasp of English yet, but she is hopeful, preparing her outfit and a fresh box of crayons that she will share with all of her new friends on the big day. Then a snowstorm wipes all of Isabella’s hopes away. The school is closed. Her one chance at making a connection in this unfamiliar land is gone. Will a chance encounter with another girl outside in the dazzling white turn everything around? The authors craft a simply told, tenderhearted tale of friendship found when least expected. Spanish dialogue is woven seamlessly into the story, bolstered by contextual clues that will allow nonfluent readers to understand the text. Language dissonance and culture shock, more than snowstorm, are at the heart of Isabella’s conflict, and the authors beautifully demonstrate how children are able to see each other for who they really are when given the chance. Maldonado’s cheery illustrations are appropriately rendered in crayon and acrylic paint; Isabella herself is an inveterate crayon artist. The authors also include enlightening notes regarding their own family histories and writing partnership, as well as a glossary of Spanish terms appearing in the text.
VERDICT A sweet and gently poignant title that would make a lovely addition to collections underscoring the hopeful side of the immigrant experience.

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