A Thousand White Butterflies by Jessica Betancourt-Perez and Karen Lynn Williams


A Thousand White Butterflies by Jessica Betancourt-Perez and Karen Lynn Williams
Publisher: Charlesbridge
Genre: Children’s (0 – 6 y.o.), Contemporary
Rating: 5 Stars
Reviewed by Astilbe

As if being new to the United States wasn’t hard enough, Isabella’s first day of school is canceled due to snow!

Isabella has recently arrived from Colombia with her mother and abuela. She misses Papa, who is still in South America. It’s her first day of school, her make-new-friends day, but when classes are canceled because of too much snow, Isabella misses warm, green, Colombia more than ever. Then Isabella meets Katie and finds out that making friends in the cold is easier than she thought!

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I loved the way the main character described her first snow day. She gave plenty of practical details about how it works for any readers who might not live in parts of the world where school and other activities are sometimes cancelled due to snowstorms. What really made me smile, though, were all of the little things she added that will probably be most appealing to those of us who have personally experienced snow days. For example, the descriptions of crunching snow were particularly appealing to me because that is exactly what certain types of snow sound like when you walk on them or use them to make snowmen. It was wonderful to see the narrator appeal to readers from such a wide variety of backgrounds like that.

Some sentences were written in Spanish. There was a glossary in the back for anyone who needed English translations of those words which was fabulous, but I think that anyone who already knows a little Spanish could probably figure most of them out on their own. It was wonderful to see Isabella switch between her languages depending on how she was feeling and who she was talking to. Learning a new language is difficult but rewarding. I loved the fact that the narrator conveyed this message so clearly without stating it directly.

There was so much compassion woven into this story. Isabella’s homesickness for Columbia and her yearning to see her father again were shared with the audience in overt as well as subtle ways. I wanted to hug her almost as badly as I wished for a sequel where her family would be reunited and they could experience summer in the United States. Loneliness is even tougher to deal with when the weather is too cold and snowy to go anywhere, so I eagerly kept reading to find out how she’d occupy her time in a foreign country where she didn’t know anyone yet. I can’t go into more detail about the plot twists, but do know that the compassionate themes in the beginning were carried all the way through to the final scene.

A Thousand White Butterflies is the perfect read for immigrants or anyone who wishes to learn about one character’s experience as an immigrant.

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