Where Butterflies Fill the Sky: A Story of Immigration, Family, and Finding Home, by Zahra Marwan, (March 2022, Bloomsbury USA), $18.99, ISBN: 9781547606511
Zahra is a young girl living in Kuwait, where “the desert reaches all the way to the sea and one hundred butterflies are always in the sky”. She is surrounded by love and by family; by her ancestors, who watch over her. When her father and mother tell her they are no longer welcome in the only home she has known, forcing the family to move far away to New Mexico, she feels unmoored: will her ancestors know where to find her? She misses her aunts, and misses being surrounded by people who speak her language. Slowly, though, Zahra and her family discover moments of familiarity: of music; of friendship; of belonging. Eventually, Zahra discovers that she can hold onto her home, where she has her aunts who love her and her ancestors who watch over them, and she can make this new “place of high desert” a home, with new friends and new traditions. Back matter includes the story of Zahra’s family and a word about the art. Zahra Marwan’s ink and watercolor artwork is dreamlike, to match her memories of her childhood. Colors are warm, influenced by her desert upbringing and move and her feelings of family. She tells her story in spare prose that creates images that will leave their mark on readers’ hearts. Endpapers with butterflies and balloons provide a link with the story. Invite readers to create butterflies or balloon crafts as an extension activity. Booktalk Butterflies Belong Here: A Story of One Idea, Thirty Kids, and a World of Butterflies by Deborah Hopkinson and Meilo So and talk about the use of butterfly migration in stories about immigration. Visit Zahra Marwan’s website for more about her books and her illustration.