Cover image for The prince of butterflies
The prince of butterflies
Coville, Bruce.
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
San Diego : Harcourt, 2002.
Physical Description:
1 volume (unpaged) : color illustrations ; 26 cm
When surrounded by thousands of butterflies, eleven-year-old John becomes transformed into one of them and finds his entire life altered because of this experience.
Program Information:
Accelerated Reader AR LG 4.9 0.5 57771.
Added Author:
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
PIC. BK. Juvenile Fiction Picture Books
PIC. BK. Juvenile Fiction Picture Books

On Order



One summer morning, a flock of butterflies alights on John Farrington's house and changes his life forever. Surrounding John in his yard, the monarchs ask for his help. They have lost their way. The green places are gone--the meadows have become mini-malls; the forests are now parking lots. Can John lead them to another refuge?
Passionate, moving, and inspiring, this glorious flight of fantasy from master storyteller Bruce Coville is a timely fable about the difficulties--and the rewards--of staying true to one's heart.

Author Notes

Bruce Coville was born in Syracuse, New York, on May 16, 1950. He spent one year at Duke University in North Carolina. Coville started working seriously at becoming a writer when he was seventeen. He was not able to start selling stories right away, so he had many other jobs, including toymaker, gravedigger, cookware salesman, and assembly line worker. Eventually, Coville became an elementary teacher, and worked with second and fourth graders.

Coville married Katherine Dietz an artist, and they began trying to create books together. It wasn't until 1977 that they finally sold their first book, The Foolish Giant. They joined together on two other books after that, Sarah's Unicorn and The Monster's Ring, and followed them with Goblins in the Castle, Aliens Ate My Homework, and The World's Worst Fairy Godmother.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Gr. 3-5. In this picture book for older children, 11-year-old John Farrington is hanging out in his backyard when a migration of monarch butterflies comes through. The meadow the butterflies used to frequent has become a development project, and they can't find another place to go. The insects magically turn John into a butterfly so he can lead them to a new area. As an adult, John chooses to study butterflies and finds another way to help them. Coville, known for combining magic with important political or social messages, does so again in this gorgeously illustrated picture book. Unfortunately, the format doesn't seem to fit the rather sophisticated language, and children will be confused by the ending: Farrington, a fictional character, is credited with creating a law passed in Congress. In addition, kids may find a scene in which butterflies swarm over John rather frightening. The message is certainly a worthy one, and the illustrations have charm, but the audience-format disconnect here may make this a difficult sell. Marta Segal.

Publisher's Weekly Review

PW said that "shifts between fantasy and accurate details" give this story about a man's lifelong passion for monarch butterflies a "sophisticated, screenplay-style impact." Ages 6-9. (June) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

School Library Journal Review

K-Gr 4-This sentimental tale was originally published in a slightly different form in Disney's Big Time (May, 1995). A flock of monarchs finds an ally in 11-year-old John Farrington as he helps them locate the diminishing green spaces along their migratory path. They cluster around his body and turn him into a butterfly so that he can lead them to places with grass and trees in his part of the world. Before he turns 17, the butterflies visit each spring and he continues to assist them. As an adult, he becomes a lepidopterist and persuades Congress to pass "The Butterfly Road" bill to set aside migratory resting places for the monarchs. Finally, when he is aged and wheelchair-bound, the butterflies return to transform John for the last time. (An author's note explains that while the character is fictional, the threat to the monarchs and their habitats is real.) The narrative adopts a brisk, documentary tone, and Clapp's watercolor illustrations capably deal with the text, but little is conveyed overall of the awe or magic the story's events would imply.-Kathie Meizner, Montgomery County Public Libraries, Chevy Chase, MD (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.