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Butterfly Boy by Virginia Kroll Critique, Analysis, and Activities for Lesson Plans

butterfly boy by virginia kroll.jpg

Imagination takes wing in gentle Butterfly Boy

Title: Butterfly Boy

By: Virginia Kroll

Illustrated by: Gerardo Suzan

First published by: Boyds Mills Press

For children ages 5-8

 Butterfly Boy is an exceptional book.  A beautifully written story, it has caring, serenity, and excitement packed into every page.

Summary, followed by Critique & Analysis, and Activities: 

This charming children’s picture book is about a boy and his grandfather, and the joyful anticipation brought by the red admiral butterflies that come in the summer.

You will meet: the boy, Emilio; Abuelo, his grandfather; Mrs. Salazar, the next-door neighbor who watches out of her window and names Emilio “Butterfly Boy”; Mrs. Cruz (who has petunias in her yard); Mamma, who is collecting the laundry from the clothes line; and Papa, who paints the grarage door. 

Readers will love their special summer story.

  Emilio wheels Abuelo out into the sunshine and reads stories to him every day.  "Mamma and Papa said that Abuelo didn't understand words anymore, but Emilio was sure he saw a gleam in Abuelo's eyes whenever he read to him."  One day they spot five crimson, brown, and white butterflies fluttering around the garage wall.  Through the summer months, Emilio seems to charm them into coming within inches of him.  The butterflies leave with the coming of fall.  "Leaves of gold and brown and crimson fluttered in their place."  In the winter, Emelio brings home a book about butterflies, in which, they find out wonderful things about their now hibernating, beloved butterflies.  Finally,

"One sweltering almost-summer afternoon," the butterflies were back.  Emelio rushed home from school to tell Abuelo.  "Abuelo began making sounds in this throat.  'What Abuelo?' Emilio asked.  Abuelo pointed with his good hand." 

The red admirals, who are attracted to white surfaces, are in danger of leaving because Papa decides to paint the garage door blue.

Find out why Emilio gets named “Butterfly Boy.” And what happens when the red admirals, who are attracted to white surfaces, are in danger of leaving because Papa decides to paint the garage door blue.

Critique and Analysis:

A beautifully written story, with a heart-warming ending, Virginia Kroll has packed caring, serenity, and excitement into every page.  Her magical descriptions and gentle characters are brought to life by Gerardo Suzan, award-winning artist of Mexico City.

Gerardo Suzan's creative illustrations are formatted in double page spreads.  His use of watercolor, acrylic, and salt (yes, salt) offers a lovely, bright, yet serene and imaginative accompaniment to Kroll's story. His illustrations feel quite like stepping into a fantastic daydream, and because of this, while Butterfly Boy is a great choice to read out loud, children will definitely want to spend some hands-on time with this book. 

Children will definitely enjoy the gentle and magical story of “Butterfly Boy.”

New York author Virginia Kroll has written many books for children, including “Helen the Fish,” “Masai…and I,” and Naomi Knows It’s Springtime.”

Gerardo Suzan, of Mexico City, has illustraed a number of children’s books and is an award-winning artist whose work has been exhibited around the world.


Read other butterfly books, like Coyote and the Laughing Butterflies, a Wasco Indian story written by Harriet Peck Taylor. 

Have the children make their own butterflies out of colored tissue and pipe cleaners, or other craft material.  

Get a nature kit and let them experience the cycles of the butterfly first hand.