Take a Studio Ghibli film, mix one part Wizard of Oz and send it down the rabbit hole of Alice in Wonderland and you might have something like Lion Forge’s new children’s graphic novel, Dream of the Butterfly. In the spirit of a Hayao Miyazaki film, Dream of the Butterfly is an tale sure to spark the imaginations of children as a little girl named Tutu finds herself lost in a great blizzard, estranged from her family and friends, and finds herself in a strange new place full of talking animals, a spy team of incapably doofy rabbits, and a secret emperor who rules over them all. Tutu finds herself being captured in this strange new village and sent to work in the energy factory where she meets a new friend, a panda, who teaches her how to work and produce energy for the village through hamsters running on wheels because, well, that’s the crazy type of place this is.
Incidentally, it’s also a place where being a little girl is illegal, and everyone around her — from her avian caretaker to the secret rabbit police that spies on her — finds her rather disgusting. It’s clear few have seen a little girl before, let alone wandering the street trying to talk to people. As Tutu struggles to break away from her emperor-mandated job and find her way back home, she looks to anyone she can for help, and finds it through a pleasant black cat who pops up to guide her along her way. But the biggest mystery Tutu must solve is about a mysterious character and the secret behind the the village’s eternal winter, and whether she realizes or not, Tutu might find herself in the middle of an odd revolution in this magical new place.
Tutu is whiny but courageous, a clear enough palate for any young child to project themselves onto and question what they would do in such a silly, scary situation. As Tutu discovers her new world you will notice the plot moving too slowly in places, often to the point of dragging, as the book relies on its artwork and anthropomorphic animals to add charm and humor to keep readers engaged. Certain parts can make for a tedious read for adults, but with the right enthusiasm it’s enough imagination to keep a child pointing, wondering, and questioning. And as with most stories of this sort, the magic of the setting and weirdness of its creatures makes up most of its charm.
Dream of the Butterfly is intended for children in the range of 9 – 12 years or a reading level of 4th to 7th grade, but the imagery is enough for a child any age, including the inner kid in all of us. And at 112 pages with lots of small, quirky conflicts, and a host of imaginative characters, the book has replay value. Dream of the Butterfly is in stores now.