I’m one of those people who thinks that anything you wish to say of any importance can be perfectly expressed in a picture book. For this reason, I’ve pretty much always given children’s book as gifts to adults, and nobody has complained. Good friends will likely receive the George and Martha books, or the vintage favorite, I like You, or even Cynthia Rylant’s acclaimed Mr. Putter and Tabby series. Thus today in the spirit of springtime and renewal, I bring you Farfallina and Marcel, a heartwarming story of a friendship between a gosling and a caterpillar.
The book is about change and growing up and losing touch as much as it’s about reunion, too, and for this I love the story. In particular I like the passage when Farfallina, which means ‘little butterfly’ in Italian, is feeling strange.
Farfallina and Marcel played together every day. They liked the same games, and they liked each other. But one day Farfallina was not herself.
“I’m not sick,” she told Marcel, “just a little uncomfortable. I need to climb up onto a branch and rest for a while.”
“I’ll wait for you,” Marcel called as Farfallina made her way up the tree.
Alas, poor Marcel waits and waits, but his lovely caterpillar doesn’t come down. Meanwhile, he notices his reflection in the water is changing.
It’s great when the two grown creatures pick up again after a long separation. As usual, their kindness toward each other is palpable:
Farfallina and Marcel spent the rest of the summer playing just as they had before. Marcel was careful not to fly too fast because he knew that Farfallina couldn’t keep up. Farfallina didn’t hide in the flowers because she knew that Marcel would never find her.
Sometimes I like to go on Goodreads.com and see what non-reviewer types have to say about a particular book I’m writing about. Here’s a notable quotation:
I have given this book as a gift to a friend before. An adult friend, but I think children’s books can get down to the fundamental truths that adults find hard to communicate. I do not think this friend appreciated the gift, though. Personally, I would love a children’s picture book picked out just for me, but I’m odd.
I think “fundamental truths that adults find hard to communicate” is a great way to put it. I remember I lost touch with a friend some years ago, and when we caught up to each other years later we used to laugh about that awkward catch-up time. “We’re in reconciliation,” my friend would say, and we cracked up.
Long live Farfallina and Marcel. May their flight south be sound and uneventful, and may they return to the pond safely as the seasons change and the earth warms. ABZ