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.
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.
I am a grade 3 teacher and recently read The Butterfly with my class as part of our study of the concept of courage. Read morePublished on May 31 2010 by Mrs. Teacher
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. Read morePublished on April 2 2004
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. Read morePublished on July 22 2003
Patricia Polacco captivates young and old alike with this story of friendship and courage that is based on real events. Read morePublished on Nov. 12 2001
I loved the "ghost" in this book! I also loved the secret basement in the floor. This is the best book of Patricia Polacco book I've ever read.Published on Oct. 12 2000
Monique finds her life changed by the Nazis during the war; but her real change comes when she discovers a Jewish girl is hiding from them in her own basement. Read morePublished on Aug. 16 2000 by Midwest Book Review
Although nicely written and designed- I do not feel this is an appropriate book, nor subject matter for 4-8 year olds. Read morePublished on July 5 2000