cover image The Beautiful Butterfly: A Folktale from Spain

The Beautiful Butterfly: A Folktale from Spain

Judy Sierra. Clarion Books, $15 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-395-90015-4

The team behind Good Night, Dinosaurs here grants a happy ending to the tale of a heroine whose search for a mate traditionally ends with his death. In Sierra's comical version, a beguiling butterfly tests her suitors by asking them to sing. She listens patiently as the cricket ""clicks,"" the frog ""croo-ahs,"" and with a determined flick of her Spanish fan, she chooses the song of a gray mouse. But while the newlywed fellow fetches some pond water, a fish leaps up and swallows him. Sierra uses a repeated ""The House That Jack Built"" refrain to convey the ripple effect of the butterfly's sorrow (""The dove calls coo coo, and the tree drops its leaves,"" etc.) until the king enters and announces, ""To show how sad I am, I will take off my robe and run around in my royal underwear."" The fish laughs so hard at the king in his skivvies that he spits up the whiskered groom. Chess demonstrates the happily-ever-after conclusion with a family portrait of three ""buttermice"" (with mouse bodies, antennae and wings to match their mom's) playing jump rope and swinging from the branches of their hollow tree home. Sierra fills her cleverly and economically told tale with repeated phrases and sounds that trip off the tongue, while Chess's droll watercolors provide just the right amount of tartness for the sweet text. Ages 4-8. (Mar.)