HOME SCHOOL BOOK REVIEW
Book: I Wish I Were a Butterfly
Author: James Howe
Illustrator: Ed Young
Publisher: Sandpiper, republished in1994
ISBN-13: 978-0152004705 (hardcover)
ISBN-10: 0152004705 (hardcover)
ISBN-13: 978-0152380137 (paperback)
ISBN-10: 0152380132 (paperback)
Language level: 1
(1=nothing objectionable; 2=common euphemisms and/or childish slang terms; 3=some cursing or profanity; 4=a lot of cursing or profanity; 5=obscenity and/or vulgarity)
Reading level: Ages 4-8
Rating: 5 stars (EXCELLENT)
Reviewed by Wayne S. Walker
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Howe, James. I Wish I Were a Butterfly (published in 1987 by Harcourt Children’s Books). The littlest cricket in Swampswallow Pond is very unhappy. The frog who lives at the edge of the pond has told him that he is the ugliest creature which the frog has ever seen. So at sunrise, he doesn’t want to go out with the other crickets. Even when his mother compels him to go, he doesn’t want to make music. He wants to be a butterfly instead because butterflies are so beautiful, and the sound of the crickets fiddling makes him even sadder. The glowworm, the ladybug, the dragon fly, and a spider known as The Old One, all try to convince him that he is not ugly. Will they succeed? And what will the butterfly say when he hears the crickets’ song?
I was first introduced to this wonderful book by my good friend and gospel preacher Norman Midgette, whose wife Myrna had used it with school children whom she taught. Norman quoted from it to illustrate a Bible class lesson that he was teaching during a gospel meeting. People were so impressed that he had to make several photocopies of his notes, especially since the book was then out of print. It is indeed a lovely story, and there are so many great lessons in it for children and adults to learn—that wishing for what is impossible is a waste of time, that we should not believe everything that others say about us, that we should learn to be content with what we are, that it isn’t right to be envious of others, and that everyone is special in his or her own way.