A lemon butterfly is searching for the most beautiful thing in the world—a field of flowers. Through barren wilds, across a wide river, and over a bald mountain the butterfly continues the search until its final miraculous transformation.
A Lemon Butterfly searches for a field of flowers through real and imagined landscapes. When it finally finds the flowers, they are inaccessible; the field is flooded and the flowers hover beneath the surface. Try as it may, Lemon Butterfly cannot breach the watery barrier, and in its acquiescence to that reality, transforms into a Lemon Butterfly Fish. Cao’s story of destiny and determination, told mostly in short graceful couplets, reiterates the theme of his earlier collaboration with Mello, Feather, including the search for one’s place, the drive forward without self-awareness, ending with acceptance of life’s mystery. Mello’s images follow his own interpretation of the Lemon Butterfly’s experience. The barren wilderness it flies over is depicted as a black and white Escher-like series of line-drawn folds and steps. That spread is followed by a thickly painted still life perceived by the butterfly as a river, and a tree with branches. Some pages offer negative space and the flash of yellow butterfly against a plain background becomes a surprise and a reminder.—School Library Journal, reviewed by Lisa Lehmuller, Paul Cuffee Maritime Charter Sch., Providence