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Review: Butterflies for Grandpa Joe

Book Title: Butterflies for Grandpa Joe (available here)

Author: Nicola Davies

Illustrator: Mike Byrne

Publisher: Barrington Stoke

Publication Date: September 2019

Most Suitable For: KS2

Reviewed by: Kirsty A, KS2 Teacher & English Lead

A lovely book that will delight anyone who reads it. The empathetic writing by Nicola Davies (The Day War Came) draws you into the complex family relationship that intertwines throughout the story. Nicola’s experience of writing empathy-based stories has again been proven a winner with this book.


The story is centred around Grandpa Joe and his grandson, Ben. Sadly, Grandpa’s wife has passed away and he is struggling to cope with everyday life since she has gone. Ben finds this very hard to comprehend as his memories of Grandpa are associated with life, fun and a passion for butterflies. As the story develops, we discover that Ben’s family is separated from Grandpa and he feels that no-one cares for Grandpa except him. Ben decides that the key to ‘unlock’ Grandpa must be to do with butterflies and sets up a plan that he hopes will enable him to see his Grandpa back to his normal self.

Nicola writes with great compassion when explaining to the reader about death and with due sensitivity when detailing the change in Grandpa’s mental and physical health as he struggles to cope without his beloved wife. This book will make a good discussion story with a KS2 class or with a child who may be experiencing similar themes in their own life.

Another positive aspect to this book is that it has been published by Barrington Stoke, who publish books for dyslexic children. Each book is formatted with a specific font, tinted pages and special layout including short, manageable chunks of text, specially designed to be accessible for dyslexic children or reluctant readers.

I have thoroughly enjoyed reading this book and can’t wait to share it with my staff to use in class as part of their books for empathy collection.



You can order Butterflies for Grandpa Joe online or from your local bookshop or library.

Many thanks to the publisher for sending us a review copy of this book and to Review Panel member Kirsty for reviewing it.

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