Drawn from the writings of Chuang Tzu, the fourth-century B.C. thinker sometimes called the Butterfly Philosopher, this delicate prose poem tells of ``a boy who dreamed he was a butterfly and, as a butterfly, he always dreamed he was a boy.'' Though the boy endures the laughter of others as he tries to suck nectar from flowers and finds beauty in stagnant water, he is heaped with praise after he fails to bow before a marauding warlord (who reminds the boy of a beetle on its back). Yet the dreamy boy cares little for the world's opinion, for he is happy as he is. Yep's simple language is exquisite in its clarity and, like a pebble thrown into water, creates ripples of meaning. A similar ethereal sensibility graces Lee's paintings. Mottled backgrounds capture the story's ephemeral essence while the somewhat stylized figures are drawn with the care of a calligrapher. Details of the boy's butterfly visions are highlighted in sumptuously colored boxes superimposed, cartouche-like, upon the page, like patterns on a kimono. Quiet strength and inner serenity pervade this masterly combination of text, artwork and design. Ages 4-8. (Sept.)
Reviewed on: 07/31/2000 Release date: 08/01/2000 Genre: Children's
During the Covid-19 crisis, Publishers Weekly is providing free digital access to our magazine, archive, and website. To receive the access to the latest issue delivered to your inbox free each week, enter your email below.