Tuesday, July 30, 2019

Review - The Gift of Time

The Gift of Time
by Jean Tolfa Hansen
illustrated by Jill Tolfa
Date: 2019
Publisher: Dog Ear Publishing
Reading level: C
Book type: picture book
Pages: 34
Format: e-book
Source: NetGalley

Buttercup is a quirky caterpillar that is in no hurry to become a butterfly. Her wish for time to learn, to discover, and to play is granted by star fairies who love her earnest heart. Buttercup chooses a path of discovery that is different from the other caterpillars. With love and guidance from the star fairies, Buttercup transforms into a beautiful butterfly and joins her friends.

(synopsis from Goodreads)

I'm afraid I don't understand the premise here. What can a caterpillar do that a butterfly can't? Apparently, caterpillars have hands with opposable thumbs, allowing them to do things like play the flute, do science experiments, and write with a pencil. Butterflies aren't so gifted. (This just seems like a weird use of fantasy. If you're going to give human traits to insects, there needs to be a better reason than trying to shoehorn those traits into the already weak plot.) As a result of this strangeness, the message seems to be that, once you're an adult, all learning stops.

Buttercup the caterpillar is given the "gift of time" by some fairies who prolong her "childhood" and prevent her transformation into a butterfly so she has more time to do stuff. It almost sounds to me like this was written for parents who don't want their children to grow up. With few exceptions, most children can't wait to grow up... so I'm not sure if they'll be able to relate to the premise here (especially since Buttercup uses her extra time to do what looks like the equivalent of homework).

This is a book in rhyme, and those rhymes are surprisingly not terrible, given the other problems the book has. I wasn't quite sure for the first few pages ("line" and "behind" don't exactly rhyme), but then it got a little better. However, those rhymes are the building blocks for a pretty weak story.

I'm also not enamoured with the illustrations. They look more like doodles than something that belongs in a children's book. Buttercup herself often looks kind of queasy (even when she isn't supposed to be), and the fairies are flat and kind of boring.

Maybe it's because I've grown up that I can't see the magic in this, but I prefer a little more logic in the fantasy I read. Add in the message that older people can't do anything, and it's not a book I'd recommend.

Thank you to NetGalley and Dog Ear Publishing for providing a digital ARC.

Premise: 2/5
Meter: 3/5
Writing: 3/5
Illustrations: 2/5
Originality: 3/5

Enjoyment: 2/5

Overall: 2.43 out of 5

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