Butterfly Wings by Samuel Larochelle, illustrated by Eve Patenaude

Butterfly Wings by Samuel Larochelle – at a glance

The School Reading Lists’ five word review: Charming, gentle, climate, love, hope.
Children’s book title: Butterfly Wings.
Children’s author: Samuel Larochelle.
Children’s illustrator: Eve Patenaude.
Genre: Eco fiction.
Published by: Greystone Kids.
ISBN: 9781778400827.
Recommended for children aged: 8+ year-olds.
First published: Hardback September 2023.
This children’s book is ideal for: Eco-conscious readers of all ages.

Butterfly Wings by Samuel Larochelle, illustrated by Eve Patenaude

To see the latest price or order, click on the book cover image.

Our review:

Energetic ten-year-old Florent, ‘the tornado’, is stunned when he hears his mums discussing the idea of having another child. It’s not so much the idea of a sibling that disturbs him, but rather his mum’s reluctance to bring another child into an ecologically damaged world.

I wonder how many more of us the Earth can support.
I’m afraid having another kid would be irresponsible.

Don’t you think there are too many of us already?

A sensitive child, Florent is horrified by the thought that he himself might be ‘too much’ and the reason that the earth is sick. He begins to have horrible nightmares of dying forests and dead oceans. The worst dream of all is one in which his parents take off in a spaceship and abandon Florent on a dying planet.

There is only one thing left to do.
Hide under the sheets…
until the end of the world

Unable to hide his anxieties any longer, Florent decides to stop speaking all together. After initially welcoming a bit of quiet, his mums are soon very concerned. When they eventually persuade Florent to open up, the family have a much-needed talk about love and hope.

“My sweet love,
don’t ever apologize for being born.
Before you came into our lives,
the planet seemed good enough – nothing more.
But the minute you arrived, our world became brighter, lighter, funnier and more colourful.”

Originally published in French, Butterfly Wings is a poetic story with a powerful message. The beautiful presentation combines blank verse, prose and graphic-novel-style speech bubbles, which makes for an accessible and involving read. The soft colour illustrations are charming and eye-catching, with borders of wildflowers enforcing the ecological message.

Butterfly Wings by Samuel Larochelle spread 1

The diversity of Florent’s family and his own presumed neurodiversity are sensitively portrayed. Florent’s anguish at what he perceives to be his role in damaging the planet is both heartbreaking and easily identifiable.

With so much climate crisis doomsaying in the media it is easy to see how children (and adults) could internalise this anxiety. The Greta Thurnberg strikes are empowering and have shone a spotlight on this issue. However, there is relatively little that an individual child or teenager can do to reverse decades of adult pollution and environmental destruction.

Butterfly Wings by Samuel Larochelle spread 2

Butterfly Wings acknowledges this anxiety and sense of powerlessness in the face of adult selfishness and greed. Rather than offering simple platitudes that ‘it’ll all be okay’, the book confronts the issue head-on and provides a realistic exploration of feelings and attitudes. The ending is hopeful and practical, highlighting ways that young people really can make a difference in the world.

Described on the cover as ‘A hopeful story about climate anxiety’, Butterfly Wings is a unique, lyrical tale that will appeal to a wide readership of concerned readers and future climate activists.

Butterfly Wings by Samuel Larochelle spread 3

Many thanks to Greystone Kids for the review copy.

To order a class set of this book, please click below to order via uk.bookshop.org, an organisation that supports local bookshops, or Amazon.co.uk.

Buy from UK.Bookshop.Org Buy from Amazon.co.uk

Disclosure: If you buy books using the buttons above: we may earn a commission from Bookshop.org, whose fees support independent bookshops; as an Amazon Associate schoolreadinglist.co.uk earns from qualifying purchases.

If you like Butterfly Wings by Samuel Larochelle you might also like: our reviews of Growing Up Powerful by Nona Willis Aronowitz, My Sneezes Are Perfect by Rakhshan Rizwan and Yusuf Samee, Happy Healthy Minds by The School of Life, The Awesome Power of Sleep by Nicola Morgan and Daydreams and Jellybeans by Alex Wharton and Katy Riddell.

Browse our list of environment and eco books

About Melanie Dillon

Photo of author
Melanie has a Master’s degree in Information and Library Management; a Post Graduate Certificate in Children’s Literature focusing on the Reading Agency’s Reading Well scheme & LGBT YA fiction, and extensive experience working in school and public libraries. Linkedin | Reviews by Melanie Dillon