The Butterfly Lion

The Butterfly Lion

Book rating: 05 Paperback

By (author) Michael Morpurgo, Illustrated by Christian Birmingham

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  • Publisher: HarperCollins Children's Books
  • Format: Paperback | 128 pages
  • Dimensions: 128mm x 194mm x 12mm | 41g
  • Publication date: 4 June 2007
  • Publication City/Country: London
  • ISBN 10: 0006751032
  • ISBN 13: 9780006751038
  • Sales rank: 913

Product description

ILLUSTRATED BY CHRISTIAN BIRMINGHAM. A lyrical and moving tale of a young boy growing up in Africa, and his lifelong friendship with a white lion. "All my life I'll think you you, I promise I will. I won't ever forget you." Bertie rescues an orphaned white lion cub from the African veld. They are inseparable until Bertie is sent to boarding school far away in England and the lion is sold to a circus. Bertie swears that one day they will see one another again, but it is the butterfly lion which ensures that their friendship will never be forgotten.

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Author information

Michael Morpurgo OBE is one of Britain's best-loved writers for children. He has written over 100 books and won many prizes, including the Smarties Prize, the Blue Peter Book Award and the Whitbread Award. His recent bestselling novels include 'Shadow', 'A Medal for Leroy' and 'Little Manfred'. His novel 'War Horse' has been successfully adapted as a West End and Broadway theatre play and a major film by Steven Spielberg. A former Children's Laureate, Michael is also the co-founder, with his wife Clare, of the charity Farms for City Children.

Customer reviews

By AnjaS 13 Jun 2014 5

When I saw the cover of the book, I thought that it would be just another story about an animal with special, unique, or even human characteristics. It is, in fact, a story about an animal but also so much more. The Butterfly Lion is a story about love, faithfulness, destiny and a lucky coincidence.
This book with its unpredictable ending begins in a different place and time, but Morpurgo, however, manages to write a story within a story and masterfully connects them into a beautiful vivid tale that teaches us about true love.
When ten-year old Michael, the narrator of the story, escapes from school, he meets an old woman – Millie. After a short chit-chat on the street, she invites him to her cosy home. She there tells him the story about the lion and Bertie. This story begins in Africa; the main character Bertie rescues an orphaned lion cub and they are inseparable until the day Bertie has to go to England to boarding school. The lion is sold to a circus and it seems that they will never see each other again. Bertie, however, swears that one day he will find his lion – a friend that made his days in Africa full of joy and happiness.

The story offers many unpredictable situations. It captures the atmosphere so beautifully that a reader can easily travel in their mind from one location to another and is never disappointed by any description. It is a human story and a complex tale of different kinds of love. Although it is considered a children’s book, an adult reader could enjoy it just as much as a child. Adults, however, will probably understand it differently and find a deeper message that Morpurgo wrapped in intelligent writing.
The book can easily make you cry; not because the story is so sad, but because it shows us that although life can be cruel it is also simple in its complexity.

Worth reading. Epic. Brilliant. I loved it.

Editorial reviews

A runaway schoolboy finds a magnificent monument to a magnificent animal in this ghost story, at once marvelous and matter-of-fact, from Morpurgo (Robin of Sherwood, 1996, etc.). The author casts himself as the ten-year-old narrator, whose attempt to run away from a miserable boarding-school existence ends in a dusty house, where a friendly old widow shows him a great lion cut into the chalk on a hillside - the butterfly lion. She tells him how it came to be there: Her Bertie, a lonely boy in South Africa, found and began to raise a white lion cub, tearfully saw it sold to a French circus owner, reclaimed it years later during the Great War, and brought it to England to live. When it died, Bertie spent the next 40 years carving its likeness on the hill. Astonishing in itself, the chalk lion becomes even moreso after a rain, when thousands of Adonis Blue butterflies gather on it. Urging him to come again, the old woman takes the boy back to school; only later does he learn that she died - as her husband did - years ago. This dreamlike story is suffused with a man's lifelong love for a rare, gentle animal friend. (Kirkus Reviews)