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My Fate According to the Butterfly by Gail D. Villanueva

“If you see the Butterfly, somebody you know will die.  Or has already died. My dad wasn’t clear. He just said if the Butterfly lands on something of yours, you should expect Death to come knocking at your door.”

Whew! That opening immediately sent shivers down my spine when I first sat down to read My Fate According to the Butterfly by Gail D. Villanueva. Set in the Philippines, Villanueva brings to the forefront the significance of superstitions in the culture. Superstitions are deeply rooted and can greatly impact actions and reactions to situations in life. In this middle school contemporary novel, Villanueva embeds the superstition of the large black butterfly.

This chapter book is a tale of ten-year-old Sab (Sabrina) and her quest to reunite her broken family for her upcoming eleventh birthday.  Her older sister, Ate Nadine, has not spoken to her father in years and Sab does not know why. Her motivation to both discover and mend the roots of the family rift is heightened when she sees the giant black butterfly, which her father has taught her to be a death omen. Seeing it, she knows she has limited time to act upon her only wish to celebrate her birthday at her Lola’s resort with all of her family there.

Throughout the story, we follow Sab’s journey to uncover more about her Ate Nadine and why she dislikes her father so much. We watch each layer of truth slowly unfold and the emotional impact on each member of the family.

Along the way, we also get a taste of the culture of the Philippines, family dynamics, societal issues, and also the effects of our behaviors and mistakes on our family’s relationships.

My Favorite Quotes:

There were several quotes in the book that caught my attention and provided opportunities for reflection. Here are some I would like to share with you:

    1. “Dad described the Butterfly as being black as a starless night sky. It’s a giant compared to your garden-variety moth — probably even bigger than my hand. Its dark, mysterious vibe is beautiful and sinister at the same time.”

I think that although she is describing a believed “death omen” the description is just so captivating and mysterious — as black as a “starless night sky” and “beautiful and sinister at the same time.”

I love this quote because it is a good life lesson — to not just sit around waiting for death. To enjoy each day of your life and take action to enjoy your life the best way possible. Although Sab sees the black butterfly, her best friend, Pepper, encourages her to not waste time feeling bad for herself, but to change her mentality to spend her supposed “last days” fulfilling her wishes.

“Maybe it’s because she grew up in the United States, but Pepper would never understand why superstitions aren’t just superstitions. When your dad believes in it, and his own mom believes in it — it’s probably true.”

This statement displays the contrast between Filipinos and those who were raised in the U.S. Pepper, Sab’s friend, grew up in the U.S., where superstitions are not as strongly immersed in the culture. Pepper doesn’t fully understand the level of seriousness Sab feels from the superstition of the black butterfly. It reminds me of how my Titas and Titos from the Philippines bring up many more superstitions in the conversation than my family who was born and raised here in the U.S. I always wondered why they would see or hear certain things happening in the Philippines, but not here in the U.S. So, reading this part of the book was very relatable to my own relatives and their beliefs.


I appreciate how Gail Villanueva brings in real societal beliefs regarding skin color and definitions of “beauty.” It is a tough pill to swallow and a “truth” that is hard to admit, but to this day, there are people who still believe that — “white is beautiful, brown is not.” There are many who strongly disagree. But there still remains the belief in this throughout our populations and still communicated (whether overtly or subconsciously).

Age Appropriateness & Topics

My Fate According to the Butterfly is intended for ages 8 through 12 (grades 3 through 7). Although this is the target age range, it is recommended to read it prior to having your child or student read it to be fully prepared and comfortable with the discussed topics in the book. It is an honest storyline, bringing up real-life issues, which I really appreciate. The story shows a torn family due to a “mysterious” reason which Sab later uncovers.

The storyline includes relationship dynamics such as a separated marriage, a homosexual relationship, and brings up substance abuse.

While it does include these topics, Gail Villanueva weaves them in very respectfully while maintaining the depth of emotions that can be involved. It brings up true to life issues between family. It teaches valuable lessons about communication, appreciation for family, living your life without regrets, the importance of having faith in others, and the process of forgiveness.

There are some challenging truths and lots of big feelings for Sab and her Ate Nadine. The author takes the reader through the emotional struggle of the characters and brings it to a beautiful resolve in the end. You will have to read it to find out how it all comes together.

My Fate According to the Butterfly will be launching on July 30, 2019! Check out the book’s website to learn more about it and how to pre-order/purchase it.

Interview with the Author:

Bio:

Gail D. Villanueva is a Filipino author born and based in the Philippines. She’s also a web designer, an entrepreneur, and a graphic artist. She loves pineapple pizza, seafood, and chocolate, but not in a single dish together (eww). Gail and her husband live in the outskirts of Manila with their dogs, ducks, turtles, cats, and one friendly but lonesome chicken. Her debut novel, My Fate According to the Butterfly, is coming from Scholastic Press on July 30, 2019

Book links:

Website — https://butterflynovel.com

Amazon —https://www.amazon.com/Fate-According-Butterfly-Gail-Villanueva/dp/133831050X

Goodreads —https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/39884772-my-fate-according-to-the-butterfly

Author links:

Author website — https://gaildvillanueva.com/

Goodreads — https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/8392229.Gail_D_Villanueva

Instagram — https://www.instagram.com/gaildvillanueva/

Facebook — https://www.facebook.com/gaildvillanueva/

Twitter — https://twitter.com/gaildvillanueva

Pinterest — https://www.pinterest.com/gaildvillanueva/

Francesca: Isa, Dalawa, Sorpresa! Book Review and Interview with the Author & Illustrator

About the Book & Why We Love it:

Francesca: Isa, Dalawa, Sorpresa! is a charming children’s picture book about a birthday party for a young girl named Francesca. It is translated in both English and Tagalog and introduces the concepts of numbers 1-10, colors, some clothing pieces, and Filipino party traditions.

Author, Cel Tria, and illustrator Gel Relova, did a beautiful job of creating a bright, joyful book to teach children basic Tagalog vocabulary with a theme that is so relatable to children.

Not only is this adorable book available in softcover, but you can also get an interactive e-Book version of Francesca: Isa, Dalawa, Sorpresa! Philip & Ana Publishing took it a step further and made it possible for children to listen to the narration of the story (by Nikki Gil-Albert) in both English and Tagalog, but to also have the capability of interacting with the words and pictures on mobile devices. Having the touchscreen capability and hearing repetition of the words in English and Tagalog strongly reinforces learning and the retention of the words. This is such an innovative Filipino children’s book! How many Filipino children’s books can you name out there that currently do this?

Want to see inside the book?  I made a video walk-through of the e-Book and softcover.  Get a closer look at the features of Francesa  on our IGTV video post here: https://www.instagram.com/p/BzTmCqRggi7/

Interview with the Author – Cel Tria

Q: Where did the inspiration come from to create Francesca?

A: “Francesca is a work of fiction but I’ve drawn from our various experiences as a family.  I was inspired by both our daughters and also by the people we’ve met along the way.

I loved how Gel, the illustrator, captured the multiculturalism of the guests.  I described the ethnicity of each character and they all turned out so well!  Regarding the games, I remember the first piñata with strings that I bought, and I thought that it might not be as exciting, but it is definitely safer!  We never had pabitin in any of our kids’ parties yet, but both my husband and I recall having participated in them as children.  

And look at this photo, notice the similarities with the balloons page.  We had a celebration with just 3 guests because the table for the tea party only had 4 matching chairs!  But it was fabulous anyway and the kids had fun and they became best friends.

This table setting served as an inspiration for Francesca’s celebration.

The spread on the food table is what you would typically find in Filipino celebrations everywhere. 

Friends of Philip & Ana Publishing enjoyed replicating the first page of Francesca for this book event.

Q: What other work have you written?

A: “I’ve written the next book in this Francesca series.  (Yes, it’s a series!) I’m excited about that and the creative process.  We’re about to start the illustrations.   It’s so much fun imagining the scenes, communicating those visions to Gel and then seeing her wonderful interpretations.”

Q: When did you realize you wanted to be an author? 

A: “Originally, when we were living in the States, I was hoping to import books and make them available to the Filipino community because we ourselves found it difficult to access this kind of materials for our children.  Then when the iPhone/iPad came out, I thought that would be a good medium too, with sound and interactive features.  I encountered setbacks in trying to bring in existing content in either format though.

One day my husband suggested that I could make my own, that maybe I should write a book.  It took a while for this to sink in, but when it did I thought it was a marvelous idea. I loved reading since I was a kid and had been writing for school papers.  The possibilities of creative writing were delightful!  That was around 2013 when I started, and by then, we have moved to Australia. ” 

Q: What are your favorite genres of books?

a) To read: “When it comes to adult genres, I am now more inclined to read non-fiction.  Recently, I really liked books by Gretchen Rubin and Malcolm Gladwell, I appreciate the fascinating information presented based on lots of research.  I’m happy to admit though that I love children’s fiction and still read them! (For research, wink, wink!)”

b) To create: “So far, I’ve only written children’s picture books, but I’d like to try my hand at chapter books as well, and adult fiction and non-fiction.  However, I think I’ll always love the process of creating picture books because it’s so great to see imagined scenes manifested in lovely illustrations.”

Q: Will you tell us more about Philip & Ana Publishing Company? (How it came to be and what you hope to do?)

A: It is a publishing company registered in the Philippines, started in 2016 by 5 Filipina founding directors, including myself.  We mostly communicate online because of our locations, 3 different regions in the Philippines, Japan and Australia.  The goal is to promote the love of reading and learning, create content that celebrate the Philippine languages and culture and other cultures of the world, and give back to the community.  We dream of many more Filipinos enjoying the habit of reading, wherever they are in the Philippines or in the world.  We want to help children who are not so privileged get access to books and find joy in them.  We hope you can support us by purchasing our books.  Give them as gifts!  Tell your family and friends! 

(Available on: iBooks and Amazon)

Q: Any upcoming projects and/or events that people can look out for?

A: “There are two projects that we’re working on right now, one is by a Filipino author who lives in New Zealand, about the best friend that a kid could ever have and the other one is the second book in the Francesca series.  Both are being illustrated by Gel too.  Watch out for them!” 

Q: Where can people learn more about you? 

A: “You can find us on Instagram @philipandanapublishing, or on our FaceBook page “Philip & Ana.”  We also have a website, www.philipandana.com .”

Interview with the Illustrator: Gel Relova

Q: Where did the inspiration come when creating the illustrations for Francesca? 

A: “When I started working on this book, I researched traditional Filipino birthday parties here in the Philippines. I remembered some of the games that we played when I was young, the colorful piñata and toys inside small plastic bags (like yo-yo’s and jackstones!) which were strung on 4 by 4 wood called Pabitin. I tried capturing those fun memories and imagined how it would be for Francesca.”

Q: What other work have you illustrated?

A: “I have been illustrating for various Philippine companies and publishing houses for a few years now. They’re mostly for books, magazines, print ads, and other materials. I also collaborate with other illustrators for exhibits here in Manila. You can view some of them on our org’s website at ang-ink.org.”

Q: When did you realize you wanted to be an illustrator?

A: “My childhood consisted of Disney animated movies, cable TV cartoons and Japanese manga. As a kid, I was always trying to draw and copy them.  My sketchbook was filled with drawings of Ariel and Jasmine, Lisa Franks, and the whole sailor squad. When I became a teenager and I still had the same passion that I’ve had for drawing when I was little, I then decided that I wanted to create my own artworks for a living.”

Q: Where can people learn more about you? 

A: “You can see some of my works at fisheecalamari.carbonmade.com or you can follow me on Tumblr.”

Cel & Gel were chatting, talking and collaborating over the internet for almost two years before they met up in person. This photo was taken during that first meeting, a few months after all the illustrations for Francesca were completed.

Giveaway Time!

In honor of my daughter’s recent birthday in June, we have partnered with Philip & Ana Publishing to host a giveaway of the Francesca: Isa, Dalawa, Sorpresa e-Book. Because my daughter turned 9, Philip & Ana Publishing will generously award the interactive e-Book to 9 (yes, nine) winners!

Head over to our Instagram profiles to find the giveaway posts: @filamlearners & @philipandanapublishing 

GOOD LUCK!

GIVEAWAY TERMS & CONDITIONS

NO PURCHASE NECESSARY TO ENTER OR WIN. MAKING A PURCHASE OR PAYMENT OF ANY KIND WILL NOT INCREASE YOUR CHANCES OF WINNING. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED OR RESTRICTED BY LAW. (READ MORE ABOUT NO PURCHASE NECESSARY)

1.  PROMOTION DESCRIPTION: Francesca: Isa, Dalawa, Sorpresa! Giveaway begins on June 27, 2019 at 12:00 a.m. and ends on July 10, 2019 at 11:59 p.m. PST

   The sponsor of this Sweepstakes is Fil-Am Learners. By participating in the Sweepstakes, each Entrant unconditionally accepts and agrees to comply with and abide by these Official Rules and the decisions of Sponsor, which shall be final and binding in all respects. Sponsor is responsible for the collection, submission or processing of Entries and the overall administration of the Sweepstakes. Entrants should look solely to Sponsor with any questions, comments or problems related to the Sweepstakes. Sponsor may be reached by email at hello(at)filamlearners.com during the Promotion Period.

2.  ELIGIBILITY: Open to legal residents of the United States, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Spain, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom who are 18 years or older. The promo code can be sent to the winners in any of these countries, as long as. they have an iTunes account. Winners need to provide an e-mail address (but not necessarily the same one associated with their iTunes account). This Sweepstakes is subject to all applicable federal, state and local laws and regulations and is void where prohibited or restricted by law.

3. PRIZES:

9 Winners will receive the promo code to redeem a free e-Book children’s book,  Francesca: Isa, Dalawa, Sorpresa!

4. HOW TO ENTER: Enter the Sweepstakes during the Promotion Period online by visiting this post on Instagram.

   Automated or robotic Entries submitted by individuals or organizations will be disqualified. Internet entry must be made by the Entrant. Any attempt by Entrant to obtain more than the stated number of Entries by using multiple/different email addresses, identities, registrations, logins or any other methods, including, but not limited to, commercial contest/sweepstakes subscription notification and/or entering services, will void Entrant’s Entries and that Entrant may be disqualified. Final eligibility for the award of any prize is subject to eligibility verification as set forth below. All Entries must be posted by the end of the Promotion Period in order to participate. Sponsor’s database clock will be the official timekeeper for this Sweepstakes.

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8. LIMITATION OF LIABILITY: Sponsor assumes no responsibility or liability for (a) any incorrect or inaccurate entry information, or for any faulty or failed electronic data transmissions; (b) any unauthorized access to, or theft, destruction or alteration of entries at any point in the operation of this Sweepstakes; (c) any technical malfunction, failure, error, omission, interruption, deletion, defect, delay in operation or communications line failure, regardless of cause, with regard to any equipment, systems, networks, lines, satellites, servers, camera, computers or providers utilized in any aspect of the operation of the Sweepstakes; (d) inaccessibility or unavailability of any network or wireless service, the Internet or website or any combination thereof; (e) suspended or discontinued Internet, wireless or landline phone service; or (f) any injury or damage to participant’s or to any other person’s computer or mobile device which may be related to or resulting from any attempt to participate in the Sweepstakes or download of any materials in the Sweepstakes.

   If, for any reason, the Sweepstakes is not capable of running as planned for reasons which may include without limitation, infection by computer virus, tampering, unauthorized intervention, fraud, technical failures, or any other causes which may corrupt or affect the administration, security, fairness, integrity or proper conduct of this Sweepstakes, the Sponsor reserves the right at its sole discretion to cancel, terminate, modify or suspend the Sweepstakes in whole or in part. In such event, Sponsor shall immediately suspend all drawings and prize awards, and Sponsor reserves the right to award any remaining prizes (up to the total ARV as set forth in these Official Rules) in a manner deemed fair and equitable by Sponsor. Sponsor and Released Parties shall not have any further liability to any participant in connection with the Sweepstakes.

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A Facebook and/or Instagram account may be required to enter. If you don’t already have a Facebook and/or Instagram account, visit www.facebook.com or www.instagram.com to create one. It is free to create an account. This promotion is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with Facebook and Instagram. You understand that you are providing your information to the Sponsor and not to Facebook and Instagram. By participating via the Facebook platform, participants are also subject to Facebook’s data policy and terms of use, which can be found at https://www.facebook.com/about/privacy and https://www.facebook.com/legal/terms/update.

10. WINNER LIST: For accessing a Winner List online, come back to this post or head over to our Instagram and Facebook profile when we share the winner. The winner list will be posted after winner confirmation is complete.