Betancourt-Perez, Jessica , Williams, Karen Lynn

A Thousand White Butterflies

(2) PS Illustrated by Gina Maldonado. Isabella is lonely; she sits indoors, looking out the window at the gray sky and bare trees, anxiously awaiting the day in January when school will begin so she can make friends. Newly emigrated with her mother from Colombia, she also misses Papa, who'd remained behind "waiting for permission to travel." When her first day at school is canceled due to snow, Isabella cries in disappointment, but then joins a girl playing outside. Together they build a snowman, which Isabella adorns with her ruana and a sombrero vueltiao, a poncho and hat distinctive to the Andes region, which are reminders of home and her father. (The ruana's texture and pattern also adorn the endpapers.) Spanish is incorporated organically and may encourage those who are unfamiliar with the language to glean meaning through context clues; a glossary provides definitive translations. Friendly looking, digitally colored, textured illustrations track the transformation of Isabella's mood from sad to hopeful while conveying the subtle comforts of a steamy mug of taza de café or an ever-present cat, as well as the distinction between cozy indoor and brisk outdoor spaces. This seemingly simple story expresses sophisticated feelings of grief over parental separation and yearning for social connection, and presents a nuanced view of loneliness, with just a single friendly overture making one feel more at home.


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