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The Butterfly [Paperback]

Patricia Polacco
4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
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Book Description

Feb. 10 2009
Ever since the Nazis marched into Monique?s small French village, terrorizing it, nothing surprises her, until the night Monique encounters ?the little ghost? sitting at the end of her bed. She turns out to be a girl named Sevrine, who has been hiding from the Nazis in Monique?s basement. Playing after dark, the two become friends, until, in a terrifying moment, they are discovered, sending both of their families into a nighttime flight.

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From Amazon

Lying in bed one moonlit night, Monique awakens to see what she thinks is a little ghost sitting at the foot of her bed, petting her cat. In the time that her French village has been occupied by Nazi troops, Monique has come to believe that nothing can surprise her anymore. But when she discovers that the little ghost is in fact a Jewish girl named Sevrine, who is living in a hidden room in Monique's own basement, she is very surprised indeed! The two become secret friends, whispering and giggling late at night after their families have gone to bed. An unfortunate and alarming moment of discovery by a neighbor forces the girls to reveal their friendship to Monique's mother, who has been harboring Sevrine's family and others throughout the Nazi occupation.

Based on the true experiences of the author's great aunt, Marcel Solliliage, this poignant story is a good introduction to the terrors of Nazism, racism, and World War II. The emphasis is on simple friendship and quiet heroism, with an occasional lapse into clichéd metaphor (butterfly as symbol of freedom). Any child can relate to the bewilderment the two friends experience in the face of prejudice. Patricia Polacco has written and illustrated many other picture books, including Chicken Sunday and Pink and Say. (Ages 6 to 9) --Emilie Coulter --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Publishers Weekly

Polacco continues to mine her family history, this time telling the story of an aunt's childhood in wartime France. Young Monique doesn't comprehend the brutality of the Nazis' missionAuntil the day three German soldiers find her admiring a butterfly. "Joli, n'est-ce pas?" says one to Monique, then grabs the butterfly and crushes it in his fist. The butterfly, or papillon as it is frequently called here, becomes for Monique a symbol of the Nazis' victims. Her sympathies are quickly focused: one night Monique wakes up to discover a girl in her bedroom and learns that she and her parents, Jews, have been hiding for months in Monique's house, protected by Monique's mother. The girl, Sevrine, has been forbidden to leave the hiding place, so she and Monique meet secretly. Then a neighbor sees the two girls at the window one night, and Sevrine's family must flee. As an afterword reveals, only Sevrine survives, contacting Monique by letterAwith a drawing of a butterfly. In comparison with the seeming spontaneity of the author's Pink and Say, this tale's use of the butterfly symbolism gives it a slightly constructed or manipulated feel. Even so, the imagery and the dramatic plot distill for young readers the terrors and tragic consequences of the Nazi regime and the courageousness of resisters. Ages 4-8. (May)
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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Customer Reviews

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Most helpful customer reviews
I am a grade 3 teacher and recently read The Butterfly with my class as part of our study of the concept of courage. The questions and conversations this book ilicited were incredible, and spurred on a series of lessons on human rights, using the UN picture book "Every Human has Rights". Polacco tells the story of two girls from separate families and religions, helping each other via the French Underground during Hitler's occupation. This book leapt some of my students into Hannah's Suitcase and Anne Frank, but it doesn't have to. It can also simply be about two girls who find friendship. Brilliant!
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5.0 out of 5 stars The Butterfly By Patricia Polacco April 2 2004
By A Customer
The book The Butterfly By patricia polacco is a story about a little girl during the 1940's, but her mom was hiding people in the basement.When all the people have to leave, even her best friend.But they will always have a gift from eachother to remember them.
I would recommend this book to whoever picks up this book.It has a little bit of everything a memior,a little bit of went on in history,it also has a lot of friendship.
In this book you will have a lot of vizualization,question,and a lot of craft. These will help you understand.
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5.0 out of 5 stars The Butterfly by Patricia Polacco July 23 2003
By A Customer
I am a college student who wants to become an elementary school teacher. This book was read to us in one of my education classes and I fell in love with it. It will fit in with any unit on the Holocaust.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Polacco: One of my very favorite authors! April 1 2003
The reviews state that THE BUTTERFLY has a target audience of ages 6-9 but I disagree! Polacco's lovely stories have appeal for all generations. Today is my daughter's birthday; she is a new 2nd grade teacher. My favorite gifts to her are six Patricia Polacco books. THE BUTTERFLY was written in honor of Polacco's great aunt, Marcelle Solliliage and her Aunt, Monique Gaw. Marcelle was part of the French underground and resistance during World War II. She bravely hid Jews in her home during the Nazi occupation. Monique was oblivious to these happenings until she met a young Jewish girl, Sevrine who happened to be hiding in the basement. A friendship developed that has endured many decades, right up to today! Polacco's exquisite story teaches the reader about true bravery, honor, and self-sacrifice (not to mention the history of a time not so long ago). How many of us would do today, as these valiant heroes have done many times in the past?
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By A Customer
This book is based on a true story. It is about two girls; Monique and Sevrine, in which Sevrine and her family are trying to survive against the Nazis' attacks. Before Monique meets Sevrine, her best friend is Denise. This story takes place in France. Monsieur Marks, owner of the candystore, gets taken away by the Nazi soldiers. Monique asked her mother, Marcel Solliliage, why they took him away. Her mother tells her it is because he is a Jew. A night before all this happened, Monique claims she saw a ghost girl. Later, Monique finds out that Sevrine is the ghost girl and that she isn't really a ghost at all.
Monique asks here where she lives. Sevrine says that she lives here. Monique is puzzled by this because she lives there. Sevrine tells her that she is a Jew, so she has to hise from the Nazis. Sevrine tells her that she lives in the cellar in her house, and that Marcel Sollilage has been hiding her family for awhile. Since Monique found out that Sevrine lived in her house, she would have someone to come to her room at night to play with. She brought Sevrine things like soil and then one day, a butterfly. They both go to the window to let the butterfly go and their next-door neighbor, Monsieur Lendormy, saw them together. They thought that Sevrine and her family were in danger, so they went to go find and wake up Monique's mother.
Marcel tells them to put on as much layers on them as they could and had Sevrine's parents dressed up as a priest and a nun. A car pulls up that Sevrine is going to ride in. Monique gives Sevrine her cat, Pinoff and Sevrine gives her a gold chain with a gold Star of David on it. Will Sevrine and her family survive? Will Monique ever see Sevrine again? Read this great story if you want to find out what happens.
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5.0 out of 5 stars The best book ever! Nov. 15 2002
Acquainting readers with holocaust history, The Butterfly by Patricia Polacco successfully maintains virtuosity to a war tale of sadness and tragedy while still exploring a delicate balance between the horrors of war and the childish innocence of two little girls cheerfully building a friendship. Based on the life experience of the author/illustrator's aunt Monique, the girl protagonist discovers that her family is hiding a Jewish family in her home.
Secretly meeting and playing together each night after the other members of the families sleep, Monique and Sevrine build a poetic friendship full of hope, happiness, and a childish energy that defies the boundaries between war cultures. After a neighbor catches sight of the girls playing too close to the window, the girls realize that the secret hiding place might be suspected. The plot races onward to an exciting climax as Monique and Sevrine must divulge not only their secret friendship but also the new danger to their parents. Escaping to a new hiding place, Sevrine's family is whisked away into the dark night of the unknown, while Monique hopes for her friend's safety. A symbolic butterfly fluttering through the French family's garden later assures Monique that her friend must be alive and safe. An author's note in the end pages assures readers that Sevrine did survive the holocaust-although her parents were not as fortunate.
The characters, while handled lightly in words, convey roundness in the authentic sense of emotions as they run the gamut of fear, comfort, hate, and love. Convincing as a memoir, The Butterfly successfully conveys the quiet strength of individuals amidst trial.
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