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Book review: Aloni Gabriel & Butterfly/Aloni Gabriel & Mariposa by Elena Iglesias

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Aloni Gabriel & Butterfly/Aloni Gabriel & Mariposa is an illustrated, bilingual story (English/Spanish) for middle-grade readers. Like The Little Prince, it is a deeply insightful fable that both educates and entertains.

Our young protagonist is Aloni, a boy who hates to be called by his middle name, Gabriel. One day in his garden, he meets a magical white butterfly who takes him on a fantastic journey to seven kingdoms of the imagination. There’s a chapter for each kingdom, and each kingdom has a different color, is governed by an archangel, and ruled by one principle or value such as wisdom, love, will, etc. Thus, the story teaches seven lessons. For example, chapter 1 is The Blue Country. As soon as they enter it, everything turns blue, even Butterfly. In this chapter, they visit Archangel Michael.

As Aloni travels on the butterfly’s back, he asks her many questions. Butterfly’s replies invite self contemplation and pondering, so that most of the times it is Aloni himself who finds the responses inside himself. Unifying all the principles is the concept that all answers can be found inside one’s heart, if one really looks inside and pays attention.

When you read this book, you can tell right away that the author is a poet. The writing, though simple and appropriate for young audiences, is often lyrical and filled with vivid images. This is one of those stories that seem simple on the surface but are deep underneath. It is refreshing to find books for children that are spiritual and not just entertaining. Since the story has a lot of dialogue, the pace moves pretty quickly.

I’d also like to point out that even though the book is a fable, the author doesn’t hit us over the head with the moral of the story. She makes it obvious, but finds a good balance that prevents the tale from sounding preachy. I recommend Aloni Gabriel & Butterfly/Aloni Gabriel & Mariposa for class discussions. It is a book that stimulates the imagination and invites self reflection.

About Mayra Calvani

Mayra Calvani writes fiction and nonfiction for children and adults and has authored over a dozen books, some of which have won awards. Her stories, reviews, interviews and articles have appeared on numerous publications such as The Writer, Writer’s Journal, Multicultural Review, and Bloomsbury Review, among many others. Represented by Serendipity Literary.