Saving the Butterfly: A story about refugees

By Helen Cooper

Illustrated by Gill Smith

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.

Categories: Picture Books

For readers aged: 4+

  • Publication details:
  • Format: Paperback
  • ISBN: 9781406397666
  • Published: 06 Jul 2023
  • Price: £7.99
  • Size: 270 x 250 mm
  • Pages: 32

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Customer reviews


'Gill Smith’s illustrations for Saving the Butterfly (Walker) by Helen Cooper also lean towards muted grey shades as we see a boy and his older sister, two refugees, rescued from a boat. The boy settles, makes friends, but the girl is haunted by the past and can’t move on until the day her brother brings her a butterfly. As the insect and the girl begin to flourish, the illustrations become as rich and colourful as the butterfly’s wings. A tender tale focusing on the aftermath of conflict, it’s a great companion to Nicola Davies’s The Day War Came (2019).' Observer

'with illustrations that find sweetness in sadness, this touching picture book is the resonant story of refugee siblings who have lost everything but each other' The Sunday Times

'This is the most beautiful story of loss, fear and hope, tied together with the healing power of nature.' Juno

'The lyrical text is complemented by Gill Smith’s emotive illustrations. […] A gentle story that can be read with children in KS1 to talk about refugee experience and, more generally about the balance between taking time to heal and finding the courage to overcome difficulties.' Just Imagine

'Featured in The Bookseller children's previews for July 2023' The Bookseller

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