Mary Shine Thompson (whose next book Young Irelands: Studies in Children’s Literature , will be published by Four Courts Press later this year) reviewed The Butterfly Heart along with five other books in the Irish Times today. One of the others reviewed is Jean Flitcroft’s second book in her wonderful Cryptid Files series.
Here is what Mary said about The Butterfly Heart .
Paula Leyden is that rare thing a natural storyteller who conjures a rich magical-realist terrain in which sorcery and modernity coexist. Her Zambian childhood provides the material for her moving debut, The Butterfly Heart (Walker Books £5.99 ). The world beyond school, cursed with poverty and Aids, begins to impinge on twins Bul-Boo and Madillo. They discover that their little schoolfriend Winifred is to be married off by her drunken uncle to his drinking companion. Ifwafwa, who keeps homes free of snakes, counsels them. With parents who are medical doctors, the twins inhabit a dual world of science and of folklore at odds with Winifred’s and Ifwafwa’s traditional lifestyle. Leyden intimates that child marriage is barbarous, but resists didacticism. Her portrait of the children’s woefully ignorant teacher, Sr Leonisa, is convincing and hilarious – if ignorance were not so tragic.
A big thank you to Mary Shine Thompson!
Mary has written extensively on children’s literature, and her works include three volumes of Studies in Children’s Literature : Treasure Islands, Studies in Children’s Literature 1500 – 2000 and Divided Worlds – Co edited with Valerie Coghlan. All available through Four Courts Press.