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Growing up and falling in love

One Million Butterflies

Carll Cneut & Edward van de Vendel

In the middle of the night a million different butterflies fly round the head of Stach, a young elephant. Stach is completely bewildered, but his parents know what he has to do. He must set out in pursuit of the butterflies. On his journey Stach realises that no one sees the butterflies but him. They take him straight to a girl who like him almost disappears in a cloud of butterflies. When Stach sees her it is as if he has suddenly swallowed the butterflies, as if they are tickling his tummy.

In every way a book to fall in love with

Playing with variations on the expression ‘butterflies in the tummy’ this picture book tells the story of the delight of first love. The dynamics of the text evoke that feeling with great precision. All kinds of ethereal butterflies, in all sizes and colours flutter round the reader’s head. Cneut draws this flowery butterfly universe with panache; you can almost hear the rustling coming off the page. Butterflies are well suited to his style of illustration: Cneut has a preference for colour contrasts and his fine interplay of lines is perfectly suited to the fragile texture of the butterflies. One thinks involuntarily of the canvases of Ensor, Brueghel and Bosch, or of Sans-Saëns’ ‘Carnaval of the Animals’, when confronted by all that richness of colourful, intriguing characters.

Exceptionally clever
De Standaard