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Yellow Butterfly: Russian-Ukrainian war wordless picture book

    yellow butterfly

    Yellow Butterfly: A Story From Ukraine is so reminiscent of  Akiyuki Nosaka’s Grave of the Fireflies. Writer and illustrator Oleksandr Shatokhin’s wordless poetic story use of a child in a war situation is heartbreaking even in symbolic form.

    Red Comet Press announced the highly anticipated and star-reviewed picture book release of Yellow Butterfly: A Story From Ukraine by writer and illustrator Oleksandr Shatokhin. Publishing January 31, 2023, Yellow Butterfly commemorates the first anniversary of the Russian invasion that started on February 24, 2022. Angus Yuen-Killick acquired world-English rights from Ivan Fedechko at Old Lion Publishing House.

    This wordless picture book portrayal of war is seen through the eyes of a young girl who finds hope in the symbolism of yellow butterflies against the background of the war. Using the colors of his national flag, Oleksandr Shatokhin has created an intensely personal response to the conflict in Ukraine and provided a narrative full of powerful visual metaphors for readers to consider as they travel from the devastating effects of war to a place of hope for peace and the future. Back matter includes notes on sharing a wordless picture book and how to talk to children about war.

    Oleksandr Shatokhin: “The main role of artists now is the same as for anyone who considers themself a Ukrainian. Do what you can and are capable of while the war continues – then draw, help on the information front is just as important . . . everyone should be in their place and make every effort to fight the Russian occupiers.”

    Angus Yuen-Killick, Publisher, Red Comet Press: “Oleksandr has created an emotional commentary on a war that reaches and touches people of all ages. The power of the book comes from the reality that this was created while he and his family were exiled from their hometown due to the fighting, along with the vision of hope he is able to find, as his country is fighting for its survival. I am honored to bring this to an English-speaking audience. It’s probably the most impactful book we’ve published so far and makes for a significant contribution to the cultural resistance against the war.”

    yellow butterfly pages

    Praise for Yellow Butterfly

    ★ “Provocative, powerful, breathtakingly beautiful.” –Kirkus Reviews, Starred Review

    “Using modest means, the author evokes the darkness of war and a vision of peace. Quite an achievement for a wordless picture book!” –Uri Shulevitz, Caldecott medal winner and author of the autobiography Chance: Escape from the Holocaust, Memories of a Refugee Childhood

    Yellow Butterfly has realms of meaning for me. I grew up with the style and the hidden ideas just like that. It is all about freedom. My life is about freedom. And the War in Ukraine is about freedom. My adult life was shaped by the Russian invasion of Czechoslovakia in 1968. Unfortunately, so is Oleksandr Shatokhin’s 55 years later. The book is like looking into the mirror of my life … in style and in sentiment … freedom is never given voluntarily by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed. Free Ukraine!” –Peter Sis, Caldecott Honor artist and creator of The Wall, Growing Up Behind the Iron Curtain

    “Breathtaking!” –Ruta Sepetys, New York Times bestselling author of Between Shades of Grey and I Must Betray You

    Yellow Butterfly marks the second book by Oleksandr Shatokhin published by Red Comet Press with The Happiest Lion Cub, translated by Zenia Tompkins, released on September 13, 2022. ”A splendid debut in a tale as deceptively simple as Aesop, but far more lilting.” –School Library Journal


    Oleksandr Shatokhin is an artist living and working in Ukraine. He created this response to the war in the first months after the Russian invasion of his country. Having evacuated from his hometown of Sumy in Eastern Ukraine, he is looking to settle in Lviv, Western Ukraine, with his wife and small child. Facebook


    Angus Yuen-Killick‘s career in publishing includes senior positions in children’s divisions of DK Publishing, Penguin, Disney Publishing Worldwide Kingfisher, and Macmillan. He has served on the boards of the Children’s Book Council, the US Board of Books for Young People, and the Assembly on Literature for Adolescents of NCTE.

    Red Comet Press is a new, boutique publisher curating and creating a list of hand-picked titles from both established children’s creators and new and exciting voices from around the world. Titles include The Secret of the Magic Pearl by Iacopo Bruno (Blue Bonnet Awardee) and Elisa Sabatinelli; If You Believe in Me by Rosemary Wells (Max & Ruby); Robin Robin, the picturebook adaptation of the Aardman Academy Award-Nominated Best Animated Short of the same name; and Albie On His Way from the Hans Christian Andersen winning author/illustrator Jutta Bauer.

    Tony M.