Almost every parent has heard some variation of the question, “are we there yet?” It’s a dreaded phrase for a reason; kids have a well-deserved reputation for struggling with long, winding expeditions.
The challenge doubles when it comes to more metaphorical travels. When the questions shift from “how long until we’re there” to “how long until I grow up,” even parents are left scratching their heads. How do you go about explaining these indeterminate journeys to young children?
That’s where "A Firefly’s Journey" by Kat Rees D’Ambola comes in. This heartfelt children’s book carries a powerful message wrapped up in lushly colored illustrations. Through the magical adventure of one little firefly, kids can start to learn that sometimes it’s about the journey, not the destination.
When a young firefly is separated from her group, she embarks on a quest through the dark forest to try and find it. Lit only by the dim glow of her firefly-light, the forest looks dense and inhospitable. Things aren’t always as they seem, however, and when the firefly asks for directions, the creatures of the forest are happy to help.
First is the skunk that our firefly protagonist comes across. He doesn’t know where to find other fireflies, but he’s quick with a joke to cheer up this little beetle. Next up is a raccoon; he doesn’t know where to find the fireflies either, but he’s happy to show off some of his magic tricks! After that is Ms. Owl, who comforts the firefly when she’s feeling overwhelmed by her search. Taking the little firefly under her wing, she passes on some sage advice; “Sometimes you find the things you need when you’re not looking for them at all.”
Encouraged by Ms. Owl’s wise words, the firefly resumes her search for the rest of her bug-folk. She soon buzzes into some fellow flying creatures — a colony of bats! They invite her to fly with them, and our firefly protagonist has so much fun that she almost doesn’t notice when she reaches the edge of the woods.
The little firefly is overjoyed to see the lights of other fireflies filling the clearing. Still, she takes a moment to feel grateful for the animals of the forest who guided her way. “It’s not always where you’re headed,” she muses. “Sometimes the journey is the best part!”
IT’S ABOUT THE JOURNEY
When writing "A Firefly’s Journey," author Kat Rees D’Ambola took inspiration from an unexpected place. As both an author and a singer/songwriter, she based the story on her own experience of becoming a musician in New York City. Perhaps it’s from this place of familiarity that she is able to craft such a moving story.
D’Ambola’s message flows seamlessly through the tale, which is told in rhyming prose. Alana McCarthy’s illustrations work in tandem to capture the whimsy of the story, from the lovable woodland creatures to the picturesque nature scenes. The result is a beautifully balanced children’s book that ties a lighthearted plot with an important lesson.
"A Firefly’s Journey" encourages children to embrace the present without worrying over the future. The little firefly’s travels make it clear to readers young and old that when it comes to life, it’s more about the journey than the destination.