Wednesday 22 June 2011

The Butterfly Heart by Paula Leyden

Pages - 200

Published by Walker Books 

Book kindly sent to me by the author for an honest review.

My friend Winifred didn't put her hand up today. Not once. She hardly put her head up. I kept looking at her sideways, waiting. But nothing. When the bell rang, she slipped out of the classroom as if she had never been there. Like a shadow. I stayed sitting for a while, wondering. Maybe she was having a quiet day. Surely everyone has those? Or maybe she didn't know any answers. No. Not likely.

The story is set in the butterfly heart of Africa. Bul-Boo and Madillo are desperate to help their friend Winifred from a fate no child should ever have to deal with. Winifred is slowly going into a decline. Out of desperation they plead with Ifwafwa, the snake man to help Winifred; to save her from her future. Ifwafwa agrees to help, but the girls find themselves impatient with his progress. Will he manage to save Winifred before it is too late?

When I get a book like this, it makes me realise how much I love book blogging. A few weeks ago the author approached me to ask if I would review her book, I quickly had to find out more about it as I had never heard of it before. I was extremely curious by the endorsement of the book by Amnesty International UK and immediately agreed to read it. As I began reading it, I found myself smiling with delight, because I had found myself a sparkling gem that needed to be seen by everyone.

The writing in this book is utterly beautiful. I found the story just flowed off the pages like a winding, lazy, river. It is one of the quiet books, where everything happens in a quiet way but produces immense results, leaving you feeling satisfied that everything has been dealt with. 

Bul-Boo and Madillo were an extremely entertaining set of twins. Madillo is just hilarious with her fabricated stories which she dramatically presents to everyone who will listen. Bul-Boo is the quieter of the pair and the most thoughtful, struggling to cope with the worries that seem to sit upon her young shoulders. 

The story goes back and forth between two different points of view. We see how frustrated Bulboo becomes as well as witnessing how Ifwafwa's mind works - slowly but surely. Ifwafwa is like a gentle giant, a snake whisperer of sorts; he reminded me of the character John Coffey in the film 'The Green Mile', a beautiful soul with magic in his essence.

I won't tell you what Winifred is facing in her future, as I don't want to spoil the story for you. However, on reading the story, I could understand how Amnesty International endorsed this book as it deals with basic human rights. The crimes committed against Winifred and her mother led to their human rights being taken away and still occur today in many civilisations all over the world. It is distressing to think that young girls suffer as much as they do and I do think this is one of those books that needs to be read to show the world how wrong it is and hopefully  help in bringing about change as one voice grows louder and merges with others into a choir. 

The way that Bul-Boo and Madillo deal with the situation that beholds Winifred, is through the eyes of a child, so we do not witness any graphic descriptions, we just see it simply as a child would see it.

This is a book I would recommend to be used in schools as part of PSHE. It is a poignant story told through the eyes of a child, but with  a little laughter and happiness thrown in too.  A must read for all. 


  1. That is sure the best thing about blogging.Getting to read books you might never have found otherwise :)

  2. This sounds fantastic. That is the great thing about blogging, getting to read books and meet authors you might not have known about otherwise.

  3. This sounds like a good one Viv. your new blog design:)

  4. OK - really freaking out now as I didn't write that comment above!

  5. Not sure this one is for me but it's nice to read about books I wouldn't normally pick up. Great review. x

  6. I saw that you were reading this and was wondering what it was about. The cover looked very interesting. After reading your review i am def putting it on my TBR list. Thanks and great review. I am glad the author gave you the chance so we can all read it and talk about it. Especially when it deals with a topic that should be talked about.

  7. An endorsement by both Amnesty International and now you, this is a book I shall have to read.

  8. This sounds like a really good book Viv and that cover is so pretty!

  9. What a beautifully written review! I'm definitely intrigued to try this one - and its not a book thats been on my radar before now.

  10. Between the interview and then the review I am really curious about this one myself now.

    I'm off to add it to my wishlist!

    Great review, it sounds like this book made an impact.

  11. I really enjoy reading quiet books and having read a few and I often Murakami's work of that nature, I have a feeling I'm going to love this one a lot.

  12. Thanks for the nudge, Viv. This sounds fantastic!


Hiya, thanks for stopping by, it is always nice to hear what you have to say, so do leave a comment if you have time.