Dream of the Butterfly, Volume 1: Rabbits on the Moon
Publisher: Lion Forge
Written by: Richard Marazano
Illustrated by: Luo Yin
Format: Softcover, 112 pages, $12.99
This graphic novel touched a unique chord for me. I’ve read thousands of graphic novels and have a short list of those that took me by surprise. Dream of the Butterfly is now on that list.
If someone asked me to summarize this hypnotizingly engaging graphic novel in one line I would say: If you like stories about young adult female heroines who are truly heroic and yet still uniquely human than you’ll love this graphic novel.
When Tutu suddenly finds herself mysteriously lost and transported to a foreign world of anthropomorphic talking animals she finds herself accused of what they see as the most heinous crime of all: Being a little girl!
From the animals’ perspectives everything about Tutu is wrong. First, she’s a little girl. Second, she speaks when not spoken to. Third, she doesn’t know her place. Repeatedly using the phrase “Comrade” in what can only be seen as a commentary on some of the pro and con political issues that surround both communism and democracy, the animals don’t understand her. And they don’t want her there.
But not all of them. Some of the animals understand her situation and are willing to risk it all, for reasons that are heroically unique to them as well. But figuring out this world does come with a price, and Tutu must decide if she and her new friends wants to pay that price.
Language Arts Elements of Story
Plot: Tutu is a strong, yet self-doubting strong female heroine who finds herself transported to a mysterious world full of talking animals, and it is up to her (and some new animal friends) to figure out what she’s willing and not willing to do to get back home.
Major Characters: Butterfly, Tutu, Teacher, Rabbits, Thief, Judge, Cat, The Flying Bandit, Orphanage Chicken Attendant, Mr. Panda
Major Settings: Mountain, School, Snowstorm, Valley, Town, Court, Vehicle, Orphanage, Factory, Bus, Streets, Ferry
Themes: Coming of Age as a Girl, Fear, Homesickness, Manners, Politics, Equality
Lesson Plan Recommendations Using the Common Core Standards for Young Adult Readers
Key Ideas and Details:
Analyze how particular lines of dialogue or incidents in a story or drama propel the action, reveal aspects of a character, or provoke a decision.
Lesson Idea for Young Adult Readers
Directions: The decisions in this graphic novel are key, both for Tutu and the anthropomorphic animals she meets in the new and mysterious world she finds herself stuck in. For that reason, teachers can ask students to choose one of two options in order to both read the graphic novel and meet the standard for reading key ideas and details in literature that emphasize decision-making and a propulsion of plot-based action in the story.
Dr. Katie Monnin is an Associate Professor of Literacy at the University of North Florida. Besides the joy that comes with reading comic books and graphic novels, Dr. Monnin enjoys a Peter Pan-ish life of researching and writing her own books about teaching comics, graphic novels, and cartoons: Teaching Graphic Novels (2010), Teaching Early Reader Comics and Graphic Novels (2011), Using Content-Area Graphic Texts for Learning (2012), Teaching Reading Comprehension with Graphic Texts (2013), and Get Animated! Teaching 21st Century Early Reader and Young Adult Cartoons in Language Arts (2014); Teaching New Literacies in Elementary Language Arts (2015). When she is not writing (or sitting around wondering how she ended up making an awesome career out of studying comics and graphic novels), Dr. Monnin spends her time with her three wiener dogs, Samantha, Max, and Alex Morgan Monnin.