Logo Title Quebec Reading Connection

I Wish I Were a Butterfly

Howe, James (Author)
Young, Ed (Illustrator)
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt 1994. 40 pages
First published: 1987
ISBN: 9780152380137 (paperback)
Original language: English
Book type: Picture Book

Text Elements:

character, figurative language, setting

Reading Range

 
Cycle
Elementary
Secondary
 
1
2
3
1
2
ELA
K
1
2
3
4
5
6
1
2
3
4
5
ESL
1
2
3
4
5
6
1
2
3
4
5
ESL Intensive & Enriched
5
6
1
2
3
4
5

Description:

After a frog calls him ugly, the littlest cricket of Swampswallow Pond yearns to be a butterfly. At various intervals, a glow worm, a ladybug and a dragonfly try to comfort him. They advise him to ignore the frog, assuring him that appearance isn’t important, but he doesn’t believe them. To him, they are all beautiful and therefore unable to understand his predicament. Finally, the Old One—a wise spider—teaches him to appreciate his own unique beauty which includes a gift for music.

Dripping with dialogue and rich in wisdom, this is a story that begs to be read aloud. The repetition of key phrases (“Why am I so ugly?”) and their juxtaposition with the beautiful descriptions of the envied insects (a ladybug is “the colour of laughter”) add a poignant dimension to the cricket’s despair.

Full-bleed pastel illustrations alternate between dark and murky (in the light-deprived cricket’s home) and richly colour-infused, as the various “beautiful” insects make their appearance. Large-scale close-ups place readers at insect level, as though they, too, were the size of a bug.

In a surprising twist at the end, the butterfly wishes it could make music like the cricket, driving home a powerful, uplifting message about self-love and self-acceptance.

  •  

    Read and discuss the author’s dedication. Make predictions about the story.

  •  

    Search for setting details in the illustrations. Draw a map of what you imagine Swampswallow Pond looks like.

  •  

    Despite lots of advice to be happy just as he is, Little Cricket only becomes happy when he changes the way he thinks. Brainstorm a list of positive things we can say to ourselves to change our thinking.

  •  

    Read and discuss the author’s dedication. Make predictions about the story.

  •  

    With a partner, create a mind map that illustrates what the various creatures communicate, think or feel.

  •  

    Just as the pond creatures discuss their features and qualities with Little Cricket, do an inside-outside circle to exchange strengths and positive qualities that other students see in you. Practise using expressions of courtesy (greeting, thanking, leave-taking) with each other.

  •  

    Despite lots of advice to be happy just as he is, Little Cricket only becomes happy when he changes the way he thinks. Brainstorm a list of positive things we can say to ourselves to change our thinking.

  • To communicate appropriately
  • To construct his/her identity
  • Citizenship and Community Life
  • Health and Well-Being
  • Ethics and Religious Culture