La mariposa negra – The Black Butterfly

Dear Parents, educators, and anyone who loves kids,

As some of you may know I am an Au Pair in Madrid, Spain. I tutor a 4 and 7 year old in English and bring them to and from their semi private/public school (gov’t helps pay tuition until students are 13 years old), and take Spanish grammar classes while they are in school all day (literally they are there from 9-5 M-Th, 9-4 Fri). Now, remember as you read this is not in NY, USA.


The 4 year old has fell in love with this book titled, The Artist Who Painted A Blue Horse, by Eric Carle.

Today, my host dad picked up his boys and gave me the afternoon free. The teacher shared with him that the 4 year old was really sleepy today and did not do a good job when doing his classwork. CAN YOU BELIEVE SHE SAID THIS BECAUSE HE PAINTED A BUTTERFLY BLACK!!!!!????? She should be happy I did not pick him up lol. I was like that is awesome a black butterfly, what I love it! During dinner I learned of this and couldn’t resist laughing. The parents looked at me and I explained I think I know why he painted a black butterfly and I doubt it was because he was sleepy. It was because he was INSPIRED by a book we have been reading. 

So I explained to the mother the book, we read it together and the history behind it, that is written at the end of the book. She learned that this book was inspired by the artist Franz Marc, the German artist who painted a blue horse in 1911. When Eric Carle was a young boy (he was born in the USA,) he spent some of his boyhood in the Nazi regime, where modern, expressionistic art OR abstract art was forbidden and viewed as degenerate! One of his art teachers secretly shared Marc’s work, even though she was only allowed to show realistic art. I love how this teacher took the courage to show Eric Carle this!


THANKFULLY, my host mom loved the book! I also told her about the book, The Day the Crayons Quit, with a similar message as this book, she wants to read it. I am so glad she was very happy with the book I shared with her son. She said, “I am so sorry that this teacher does not understand art.” She later spoke with her son stating that he is a wonderful artist and they will talk to his teacher. She even thinks I should bring the book to share with his teacher!

In all, I am so grateful that she was able to appreciate the beauty of art!! I’ve worked in environments where I literally heard pre school teachers tell the 4 year old students that scribble scrabble is not art, I always told the students not to worry because their work is abstract and the most wonderful piece of work I have ever seen them draw.

Do not deprive your children of art, without art our world would be expressionless! They have the right to see the beauty of the world anyway they choose. Creativity in its’ raw form can be seen as rare because people often kill the spark of art at a young age. Let’s vow to allow our children’s creativity explode in a world full of lively colors, realistic or unrealistic because that is freedom!


I hope I can get a picture of this black butterfly to also post!!