Thursday, January 7, 2016

Learning from Picture Books - BUTTERFLY PARK

The unique illustrations in this book really stand out! It’s on the list of books nominated for this year’s Blue Spruce Award from the Ontario Library Association.

Summary from

When a little girl moves to a new town, she finds a place called Butterfly Park. But when she opens the gate, there are no butterflies.

Determined to lure the butterflies in, the girl inspires her entire town to help her. And with their combined efforts, soon the butterflies—and the girl—feel right at home.

Elly MacKay's luminous paper-cut illustrations and enchanting story encourage community,

friendship, and wonderment in the beauty of everyday life.

Butterfly Park was written and illustrated by Elly Mackay. It was published by Running Press Kids in 2015.

My Thoughts as a Writer:

This story is a good example of a plot where a main character starts with a problem – why are there no butterflies in Butterfly Park? The attempts to solve the problem are appropriate for the girl’s age level. I liked that it was written without a name for the main character, so anyone could put themselves in her place.

What really stands out for me with this book are the illustrations. They are created using a unique style of photographing her drawings which she sets up in a miniature theatre. She talks about her process in the trailer for her book If You Plant a Seed:

My Thoughts as a Teacher:

This story may spark a lot of discussion about taking care of the environment and ways children can work on solving problems. It’s also a good model for talking about story structure. There is lots of detail in the illustrations, so it would also be a good book for demonstrating how pictures can tell a story.

Themes: environment, community, good deeds, butterflies

Ages: 4 – 8

Grades: preschool – grade 3

Follow-Up Activities:
  • What is your favorite page from the book? Why? Draw or write about it.
  • Write a mini story and create your own paper theatre diorama to illustrate it.
  • Create the life cycle of a plant using a paper cut out art technique.
  • Make a paper garden with paper flowers and butterflies.
You can also find an art extension activity on Elly Mackay’s website.


  1. What a unique storyline. There are clearly lots of layers to this book. I can see why it won an award.

  2. I watched the video. I love Elly Mackay's art extension illustrations! It was amazing watching her make them. I love this book and the fact that the girl sees a problem and takes action. I want this book.

  3. What a great gift to be accomplished at both writing and illustrating children's books. I'm adding this treasure to my collection.

  4. Interesting video on illustrations! Thanks for sharing.

  5. I love your follow up activities for this intriguing book. I like that it gives the girl as leader in her community for the butterflies to come to the park. The cover looks so appealing as well.


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