Young Jonathan and Joshua are two inquisitive and energetic little kids, always eager to help around the house and in the garden. One spring day, Jonathan notices a strange creature eating a leaf and learns that it is a caterpillar which soon grows into a beautiful butterfly that he names Danielle. The two become best friends. DANIELLE by Richard and Sonya Soukop, is an illustrated children’s title containing three short stories that narrate the story of Jonathan and Danielle’s friendship, alongside their adventures in the garden with other characters.
DANIELLE is a delightfully sweet book, focusing on family and friendship. It also teaches children several facts about the natural world, such as the process of how a caterpillar forms a cocoon (Jonathan mistakenly calls it a “raccoon”) around itself in order to transform into a butterfly. Later on, the two brothers encounter a rooster who is unable to wake up the sun because he has lost his trumpet, and with Danielle’s help, they find it in the nest of a thieving magpie. And finally, in the last tale that features a Billy Goat, the boys learn the importance of compromise and sharing.
The work was born out of the collaborative efforts of Richard Soukop and his wife Sonya, and is quite clearly a labor of love. The Soukop’s writing is simple and flows naturally and none of the lessons feels didactic or preachy. Jonathan is portrayed as a young boy who is naturally curious about the world around him and very empathetic–a definite inspiration for young readers. The little details about the mother’s lost earrings or the different plants growing in the garden, all make the stories come alive. The illustrations by Tristan Brigden are minimal, but extremely evocative and colored in warm and welcoming shades and the book could have benefitted from more of them. Also, Danielle, the butterfly of the title, could have played a greater role in the latter stories. Nevertheless, DANIELLE is an adorable and heartwarming read that aims to gently teaches children some vital life lessons and morals.
DANIELLE by Richard and Sonya Soukop is an adorable and heartwarming children’s title that gently teaches some important lessons in friendship and empathy, accompanied by Tristan Brigden’s charming illustrations.
~Archita Mittra for IndieReader