EK Books, 2023
32pp., hbk., RRP $A24.99
When she lived in the country, Olivia had plenty of space for her Butterfly Garden and each day she was surrounded by all sorts of butterflies, content in her own company and theirs. But when they move from the country cottage to an apartment in the grey city, there are no butterflies to be seen. Even though she waited and waited, sang to them and danced and whirled and twirled as she had done to attract them in her old home, none came.
So she decided to plant a little garden on her balcony so she could offer the butterflies the things they liked, but still none came. Despite the little bright spot in her corner, the buildings around remained grey and bleak, seemingly only being populated by pigeons. And she still had no friends. She sang louder, danced faster and coloured her world… Then, one day she saw something amazing- and it wasn’t a butterfly. Before long, she not only had butterflies but more friends than she could ever had wished for.
Moving house, whether it is across town or state, or from country to city, can be daunting for little ones, and the fear of having no friends is common. So much so that it is theme in many books for young readers. So this new story, well timed for those for whom a move to a new town or new school is on the horizon as year’s end nears, is one not only of reassurance but also suggests a pathway forward. Olivia’s need for her butterfly friends and her creating of her balcony garden to attract them leads to the building of a community that crosses age and cultural borders and creates the connections that we all need. Even if you live in a crowded apartment building you can still be isolated and lonely. There are instructions for building a butterfly garden in a small space, but even if that’s not a practical answer, it is the message of how reaching out to those with similar interests can bring untold rewards.