This is a beautifully illustrated children's book with a message about loss and hope. While I do understand that not all children's books can be bright and happy and make a child laugh, this one was a little too sad for my liking.
I like books that can teach a valuable lesson and this one did, but at the same time I thought the ending was a little abrupt and left off in a bit of a sad place.
Overall this was a good book, but not one I would recommend for very young children. I think it would be better for kids over six.
This review is based on a digital copy from Netgalley.
Books for Kids
This is an interesting book for many reasons. It deals with an issue that most people find uncomfortable to address. Most people (myself included) rarely if ever talk to their kids about death or about what happens to a stillborn baby. Farfalla talks about this issue gently, giving hope and spreads a blanket of peace over the subject.
Many children have to deal with death. I am sure that everyone can think of someone (person or pet) that they knew as a child that passed away. It can be difficult and scary and very sad. Vanita Oelschlager's story gives children a sense of understanding. She gently explains in a universal and non-religious way what happens when we die.
The illustrations: The artwork is beautiful. I like the bright colors and the way they contrast with the heavy black outlines. Blackwood has a lovely style that is well suited to both the story and the subject. My daughter loves this book because of the "pretty butterflies".
School Library Journal
A little beetle and his mother discover many yellow-and-black caterpillars on the leaves of a blueberry bush. They become friends, but soon the caterpillars disappear into white glistening cocoons. Little Beetle thinks of all the fun he will have when his friends become butterflies. One day they emerge from their cocoons, dance in the garden, and fly away. A single cocoon remains, and the little beetle names his butterfly-to-be Farfalla. When no butterfly emerges, Mother Beetle puts a leg around her son and gently explains, “Butterflies that are not born go to live with all other butterflies who die and fly up in the sky with the stars and the moon.” Three nighttime spreads reinforce this idea, as a shimmering yellow butterfly says goodbye to Little Beetle. The final spread shows him with the returning butterflies bright against the blue sky. The simple images in the full-color illustrations capture Little Beetle’s feelings of friendship, anticipation, disappointment, sorrow, and acceptance. Mother Beetle’s comforting presence will be mirrored by caring adults helping children who have experienced the loss of a lovingly anticipated sibling. However, the book will need adult explanation as many children are likely to be confused about what happened to Farfalla.
–Mary Jean Smith, formerly at Southside Elementary School, Lebanon, TN
Jeanz Book Read N Review
Farfalla: A Story Of Loss And Hope, is as it says in it's title the story of a miscarriage which is literally a story of loss and hope, and an extremely emotional time in your life. Then if you have children already you have to find a way of explaining in simple understandable terms that do not scare them. You have to do all this explaining when you are in a very emotional state yourself as you try to come to terms with what has happened. The word "Farfalla" actually means butterfly so what better way to explain tan the story of a caterpillar who fails to emerge from the cocoon to become a butterfly.
The book is a large hardback book, with beautiful illustrations throughout. It is a beautiful book to be kept and treasured. The subject of the book is miscarriage and how to explain it to a young child. The story is told using a caterpillar and butterfly as the baby. It is beautifully told in a simplistic yet poignant way. I think the book could be kept by the child being told about the miscarriage as a keepsake of the brother or sister that was not meant to be. I think it is a brilliant and innovative way to explain a complex and emotional subject to a young child.
As someone that has gone through a miscarriage at 22.5 weeks into my pregnancy, I am aware of the sensitivity around the subject, all to often in my opinion the miscarriage is brushed aside and not explained or spoken about. I think this book will also give the parents a beautiful way to think of their miscarried child. I have never seen other books that deal with this subject, and think it a fantastic idea.
So did I enjoy? Enjoy is probably the wrong word, I thought the book innovative, and thought it dealt with miscarriage very well, in a simplistic, yet compassionate, respectful way. I think the book also provides a way of remembering the miscarried child too.
Would I recommend the book? I would definitely recommend yes.
Crossroad Reviews and Tours
Kid Lit Reviews
Farfalla is a sensitive story about a delicate situation—the death of an unborn child. I like the use of cocoons and butterflies as “the baby in mommy’s tummy.” With the cocoon, the child can see the caterpillar lying in his cocoon. The unborn butterfly goes up to the stars and the moon; unborn children go up into the sky to heaven. This is a wonderful way to make this subject accessible for the youngest minds.
The illustrations are beautiful, with oversized objects, and color from edge to edge. The pages are lively, until the cocoon has died. At this point, the illustrations become darker, as if night has fallen. I think the black background represents Little Beetle’s grief and confusion. Once he says goodbye to Farfalla, who waves from high in the sky, the background returns to the bright blue of the clear sky. Little Beetle has accepted Farfalla’s death.
Children excitedly await the birth of a new brother or sister and then, for whatever reason, the baby does not survive birth. Young children often do not have the ability to understand the concept of death—of someone leaving and never, ever returning. Three, four and five-year-old children do not see death as a permanent state of being.
Cartoons help reinforce the idea of non-permanence of death when the character “dies” in one episode, only to come back to “life” in the next, or even the same, cartoon. The Tom and Jerry cartoons and the Roadrunner and Coyote are good examples of cartoons that reinforce children’s idea of death as temporary.
Toddlers understand that something is “all gone,” such as their dinner. Yet, that dinner returns each night. Not until age ten, do most kids firmly grasp that death is permanent and can happen to anyone. Farfalla helps parents talk to their young children about the death of not only an unborn child, which is the intent of the author, but also the death of anyone, or anything.
VanitaBooks tend to have messages but they are not preachy in any way. VanitaBooks tell great stories that are fun and lively. Children will love and treasure these books, and Farfalla is no exception. The illustrations in VanitaBooks are gorgeous and interesting. They capture the mood of the story.
Farfalla is a sensitive story with profound meaning. I recommend this to anyone who must explain death to a young child. While the cocoon represents a child in the womb, Farfalla can help explain any death to a young child. The main thing for a child to take away is the person, or pet, went to heaven and are happy there, just as Farfalla is with the stars and the moon, happily looking down upon Little Beetle.
The Baytown Sun
Secretary, Library Media Services, Lincoln Public School
Of course my first thought is how Kristin Blackwood’s remarkably lovely watercolors bring emotion and life to the story. My second is how gently the story is told respecting different reader’s religious beliefs or lack thereof. There are not many books on grief that can be freely used in the public schools without mentioning God or Heaven or other religious aspects that surface in times of trauma and sadness. Most reader’s will be able to interpret this story with their own family’s thoughts.
Having lost two grandbabies to premature birth this tale touches my heart.
Farfalla is a children's book that was written to help children deal with the loss of a younger sibling, particularly one lost during pregnancy. A young beetle patiently waits for a butterfly to hatch from its cocoon which he has named Farfalla. He reads to it, sings to it and does all the same things that children do when their mother is expecting a little brother or sister. When the cocoon does not hatch, his mother explains that caterpillar/cocoon will not become someone that can play with him and that butterflies who are not born go up to live in the sky with the "stars and moon". In the end, the little beetle is able to say goodbye to Farfalla.
Having two cousins who have both experienced late term pregnancy loss (stillbirth), I found this story to be very poignant reminder of their losses. In both cases, there were older siblings that had to deal with the loss as well. I wish this book had been around then because I think it does a wonderful job of giving a parent or other family member the words to open the conversation on terms that a young child can understand.
This attractive book bears a just-right touch for helping young children realize that not all metamorphoses and births result as planned.
One day young Beetle and his mother find a neighborhood of caterpillars in the blueberry bush, and Beetle finds some pleasant neighbors ... until the caterpillars disappear, the cocoons appear, and Beetle's mother has to explain that there are changes in store and beetle must be patient.
When a particular cocoon doesn't produce Farfalla the butterfly that Beetle has named, planned and waited for so long, mother must again explain that not all butterflies make it out of the cocoon, and she consoles Beetle about the loss.
This book would be a supportive and straight-forward read to help children understand miscarriage as well as deaths of pet and other babies they see in nature around them. The illustrations and text hit just the right note of access without patronizing the child reader, though the solution to Farfalla's non-birth is less than satisfying.
What's different: The text is neither so blatant nor so soft that the child misses the message. The illustrations support and extend the message with just the right touch of appeal.
Parallels from butterflies to babies can be made easily, and the story and emotions set by the drawings will be comfortable for repeated readings.
Now that I've read it: This title will be a good one to add for my school library. The message of life after death does not help with my particular theology, so I won't be adding it to the church library.
April the Librarian
Farfalla is a beautiful, bittersweet picture book that looks at happiness and loss. Little Beetle, the main character, becomes friends with a group of caterpillars. He plays with them until one day they are gone. His mother explains that they are not really gone, just in their cocoons and if he is patient, they will hatch as butterflies. When only one cocoon remains, Little Beetle 'adopts' the last cocoon. He plans adventures and even names his soon to be butterfly, Farfalla. But Farfalla never hatches and his mother gently breaks the sad news.
This book would be a wonderful discussion starter for any child dealing, or soon to deal with a death. It would be especially directed at children whose infant or preterm sibling has died. I recommend that it be included in any preschool/family resource library as well as public library collections.
|VanitaBooks donates all net profits to The Oak Clinic for Multiple Sclerosis and other charities where "people help people help themselves."
|How the artwork was created.