by Anna Awe
In this high-pressure world, most of us, at one time or another, have experienced self-doubt, sadness and a sense of feeling lost. In Buttercup (a highly recommended children's book), we find the butterfly Buttercup hiding under a tree, his head down, feeling just this way. Buttercup is sad because his wings are different from those of the other butterflies. Deep down, he knows his purpose is to fly, but he does not believe he can do so because his wings look so different.
Enter the wise old butterfly, Grandpa Amos. Grandpa Amos comes to teach Buttercup a lesson: Buttercup should embrace his differences and know that he was put on this Earth for a purpose. Buttercup will carry out this purpose of flying if he believes in himself and stays true to his heart. Grandpa and his friend Mr. Owl introduce a cast of colorful characters, including Mr. Turtle, Ms. Birdie and Mr. Rabbit, who are all carrying out their purposes. Although some of the characters, for example Mr. Turtle, may seem like they are not living up to their potential, this is not the case; they know they are doing what they were meant to do.
Buttercup’s text is interspersed with delightful illustrations by Uniquejhora. Characters are portrayed in vivid, cartoon-like scenes. Additionally, Wilbur Brower, Julia’s brother-in-law, has written and orchestrated an album of songs to go along with Buttercup’s plot.
Buttercup concludes with a beautiful ending (you will have to read for yourself to see it) and life lesson for children and adults alike. Not only does it encourage us to embrace our differences, but it also shows that there are mentors who care and look out for us. Grandpa Amos and Mr. Owl watch Buttercup from afar as he goes along his life’s journey. In Julia’s message at the end of the book, she shares the importance of teachers and mentors in guiding young people’s minds and hearts.
Julia says her inspiration for the book is from her personal experience as a shy and introverted person, and how that suppressed her desire or inclination to demonstrate her true capabilities. She thought about children and young adults like herself who might be uniquely “different” from others, but have enormous potential, and are afraid to express and demonstrate their difference. They tend not to achieve their real potential. She also believes that persistent encouragement and emotional support from “significant others,” such as parents, teachers, and friends, can do a lot to help others to grow and develop in many areas of life.
Buttercup is a perfect book for a bedtime story, the classroom, or a fun afternoon with the kids. It is not only entertaining but teaches children valuable life lessons and can instill them with confidence, joy and a sense of purpose. Buttercup encourages each person to embrace themselves as they are, and not in comparison to others. Buttercup is available online and in print.