Nicola Davies writes such beautiful and touching books, and Butterflies for Grandpa Joe is another read that will bring a tear to many an eye, including mine.
Ben used to love going over to Grandpa Joe and Granny Lou’s house. In the winter, Ben and Granny Lou would bake cakes whilst Grandpa Joe would be obsessing over butterflies in his shed; sorting photos and planning which ones to photograph when the warmer months came around. In spring and summer, they would all spend time in the garden. Granny tending to the flowers and Grandpa would busy himself with his camera and tripod trying to get that perfect butterfly shot. Life really was wonderful.
But then Granny Lou died and everything changed. Grandpa became a shadow of his former self and lost all interest in butterflies. He would hide himself away from the outside world and Ben could see his Grandpa slowly fading away right before his very eyes. Determined to bring Grandpa back to life and help him recapture just a bit of his former self, Ben hatched a plan. A plan involving butterflies…
This is such a beautiful story of loss, grief, empathy, healing and lots of butterflies. Nicola Davies perfectly depicts that special bond that so often exists between grandparents and grandchildren. Ben and his Grandpa have enjoyed many happy times together but grief has broken Grandpa and those times are just memories. Heartache comes in many forms and rather than express tears, Grandpa Joe has chosen to lock himself away.
What is wonderful is that Ben is not willing to accept this and is determined to help his Grandpa when the adults around him are not willing to do anything - a family rift has resulted in Grandpa and Granny becoming estranged from Ben’s family. Ben’s perfect plan and a lovely ending filled me with that wonderful warm feeling as ultimately he not only helps his Grandpa heal but also brings together the family.
As well as reading about and witnessing the healing power of nature, readers are also treated to lots of information on butterflies including their life cycle, their development and Max’s care for them. Being a big fan of Nicola Davies’ books on nature, I was delighted that this was so effortlessly woven into the story.
Mike Byrne provides the illustrations which convey much emotion; the happiness of Grandpa Joe, Granny Lou and Ben in the garden, the emptiness and loss of Grandpa Joe as he sits alone staring at the TV and the beauty of nature as caterpillar turns to chrysalis to butterfly. It is very pleasing to see characters of different ethnicities. As always with Barrington Stoke, the book is published using dyslexic friendly font and colours so everyone can access this touching read.
Recommended for 8+.