The butterfly by Roger Vaughan Carr

cover image

Ill. by Ann James. Walker Books Australia, 2012. ISBN 9781921977664.
(Ages:6+) Recommended. Picture book. Environment. Another classic Australian tale is republished by Walker Books, complete with comments by the original publisher and the author and illustrator, outlining their thoughts about the book and why it was published. Reading these at the end of the book gives another level of enjoyment to this happily reprinted book.
This book admirably espouses the idea of the butterfly effect or chaos theory for the young and not so young. The idea that a butterfly's beating wings can produce a puff of wind capable of being part of a mammoth change as it builds around the world, is stunningly portrayed in this book. The words and illustrations combine to make a representation of this complex theory to make it understandable to all.
Malani is captivated by the butterfly she sees in the forest as her father works with his elephant. She feels sad that the butterfly does not have the strength of the elephant, but when the puff of wind created by the butterfly is incorporated in the dying breeze from Russia, it gains strength and moves on.The breeze moves onto Morocco, eventually becoming a stronger wind which blows the trees in Africa. Building up it blows the sand across the desert, making the people have to pull their clothes tightly around themselves, then on to the seas, creating a gale, then to Peru, making the crops sway. The ocean is hipped up and a tornado develops, forcing Malani and her father and their elephant to higher ground where they will be safe.
The water colour pictures are stunning, from the detailed views of the butterfly to the sweeping swathes of colour denoting the seas. A book to treasure in the library, making a scientific idea comprehensible.
Fran Knight