Saving the Butterfly: A story about refugees

Saving the Butterfly: A story about refugees

By Author / Illustrator

Helen Cooper, Gill Smith


Representation & Inclusion

Age range(s)



Walker Books Ltd








A poetic, powerful story about a little brother and a big sister finding a new home and new hope after being rescued from a boat lost in the dark sea.

A little brother and his big sister try their best to settle in a new home, where they have nothing left from before except each other. The little one makes new friends and quickly learns to laugh again but his sister remains haunted by the shadows of their past and hides away in their broken house. Trying to help his sister, the little one catches a butterfly for her and brings it inside the house. His sister knows that she needs to set the butterfly free ... but that would mean going outside. In taking the first steps to face her fears and save the butterfly, she also begins the process of saving herself.



Two children are rescued from a small boat; refugees, we're given to understand. There is no shiny new home for them in this new place, which appears battered and run-down, perhaps like its residents who are seen to-ing and fro-ing with makeshift bits and pieces, as if re-building normal life. The little children, however, are playing and so - easily it seems - our smallest new arrival joins in. But the older one, a girl, clings onto whatever security she can find - alone, inside, in sleep - and shuns her brother's efforts to bring her out of herself, into the light. Only a butterfly can do that - a fragile, beautiful creature which itself needs rescuing from the confines, first of its jam-jar trap, and then from the interior gloom of alien surroundings.

The girl must summon her courage to save this flailing creature and, in so doing, is herself restored to life and love. Simple, sparse, symbolic, Saving the Butterfly is a story of hope for our times, a sensitive book which could be read, at home or in the classroom, to KS1 children who are aware that the world has a dark side which can be very difficult to escape.

Picture book / Reviewed by Jane Rew, school librarian

Suggested Reading Age 5+


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