Score: 91/100 (9.1 out of 10)
The Secret Life of Santa's Butterfly Elves by Rose Andria impressed us with its creative and imaginative concept, shining light on some of the more abstract and underappreciated things about the Christmas/holiday season—what the author terms the elements of “Christmas magic.” These are things like song/music, gift-wrapping, Christmas hats, laughter, and prayer. The little, subtle things that add a special charm or magic to the holidays.
The book showcases the Butterfly Elves, smaller, winged elves who don't make toys and physical gifts like Santa's better-known elves. Instead, these little flying elves do something just as important, if not more important. They make help to make the little things.
Much of this book consists of short profiles and portraits of different Butterfly Elves like Mekuba (who brings lifelike imagination), Winta (who makes Christmas hats), Cybilka (who helps Santa's reindeer to fly), Hapsinda (who bring gratitude in togetherness, Sheliera (who brings music), Chilkra (who brings laughter to children), Fernalta (who allows sound to travel), Prenida (who brings love in prayer), Armnanda (who brings peace, calm, and acceptance), Batinda (who brings light & warmth), Gelda (who makes gift wrapping special), and Taneda (who brings happy surprises).
The concept of this book is incredible and very beautiful. Some of the illustrations are also very eye-catching, colorful, and beautiful. Now, there are a few that are rough around the edges. Some of these do have a very AI-generated look and have some of the challenges associated with that. For example, Taneda's left-eye appears a bit warped, something that happens when you try to face swap a human face with a face in a picture that's at a bad angle. The pixel-quality for Chilkra and Hapsinda appears to be lower than the pixel-quality for Mekuba, Prenida, and Sheliera. That happens sometimes when converting to a PDF or with KDP Create. So, we understand that.
Something that is a bit odd to us is that some of the most incredible, beautiful, impressive-looking Butterfly Elves in this book are featured on expositional pages and seemingly never given names or the same context that the other Butterfly Elves get. So, what if children want to choose these elves as their “favorite” as prompted at the end? Do they just say, “the green-haired one?”
For example, look at pages 5, 7, 17, and 35. These are the most beautiful illustrations in the book, yet they seem to be of characters who aren't specifically mentioned in it, unless you make the argument that the elf of pages 15 and 17 are the same person, which would indicate a common AI problem. They're clearly not the same person despite the similarities in hair color and boyish looks. The same could be said about the dark-haired feminine elf on page 18 and the dark-haired femine elf on page 19. They are alike, but clearly different people.
There are also two little illustrations of elves on page 18 that look incredible, but they're practically footnotes.
Something you might also need to take into account is that the names of each of these elves, as listed above, are sometimes difficult to pronounce and remember for a native English-speaking person. These sound like very foreign names, which is fine. It just adds an extra challenge in comprehension and reading speed.
The font used for much of this book is very cool looking and fits the Christmassy/fairy theme, but it has a few drawbacks as well. It's hard to read sometimes, especially the letters M, W, Y, and I. It's one of those fonts that insists on putting a tail and a hat on everything. The author also insists on capitalizing the word “Magic” perhaps for emphasis, but it seems to add a small extra bump in the flow of our reading.
Lastly, some of the Butterfly Elves are actually a little terrifying to look at. Armnanda appears to be lacking arms (although they might have them behind their back). Batinda has almost a banshee-like appearance the first time you see her, although it turns out that she just has her eyes closed. Hapsinda kinda looks like a troublemaker and like he might be up to no good. Chilkra's face doesn't seem to fit just right. Taneda's left-eye, as mentioned before, seems like there's something wrong with it. However, at the same time, this book really has an appeal. It's in the same vein of something like Brats or Troll dolls or a Tim Burton movie (i.e. Nightmare Before Christmas). If you like that sort of thing, then you might really find these elves to be cool and awesome.
With all that said, we admire the imagination and creativity behind this book! We also love the message that Christmas is about more than just superficial things like money and presents.
Check it out on Amazon!