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A Blanket of Butterflies

Second Edition

By Richard Van Camp
Illustrated by Scott B. Henderson, Donovan Yaciuk, and Nickolej Villiger
Series: The Spirit of Denendeh
Imprint: HighWater Press

Categories: Young Adult Fiction, Diversity & Multicultural, Death & Dying, War & Military
Big Ideas: Aspects of Indigenous Cultures, Smudging, Spirituality and Ceremony, Storytelling and Oral Culture, Traditional Medicine, Authentic Indigenous History, Contemporary Setting, Social Emotional Learning, Courage, Death, Grief, and Bereavement, Emotions and Feelings, Friendship, Responsibility, Self-Esteem and Self-Reliance, Strong Female Characters
Cultures & Peoples: Dene, Tlicho
Indigenous Languages: Dene, Tlicho, Words or Phrases

Interest Age: 12+
Grade: 8–12
Reading Level: Lexile® Framework for Reading: HL510L
Paperback : 9781774920404, 56 pages, September 2022
Ebook (PDF) : 9781774920435, 56 pages, October 2022
Ebook (EPUB) : 9781774920428, 56 pages, October 2022

In this Eisner-nominated adventure, a Tłı̨chǫ Dene boy and his grandmother help a Japanese man reclaim his grandfather’s lost samurai sword and armour. Now in full colour!


No one knows how a suit of samurai armour ended up in the Fort Smith museum. When a mysterious stranger turns up to claim it, Sonny, a young Tłı̨chǫ Dene boy, is eager to help.

Shinobu has travelled to Fort Smith, NWT, to reclaim his grandfather’s samurai sword and armour. But when he discovers that the sword was lost in a poker game, he must confront the man known as Benny the Bank. Along the way, Shinobu must rely on unlikely heroes—Sonny, his grandmother, and a visitor from the spirit world. Together, they face Benny and his men, including the giant they call Flinch.

Will Shinobu be able to regain the lost sword and, with it, his family’s honour? Can Sonny and his grandmother help Shinobu while keeping the peace in their community?

Now in full colour, this new edition includes additional background information and cultural context. Learn about the real-life inspiration behind the story and the intersections between Indigenous and Japanese Canadian experiences during the Second World War.


  • Long-listed, First Nation Communities READ 2023
  • Short-listed, First Nation Communities READ Award 2023


Get a copy of A Blanket of Butterflies for your library or classroom, or for your own young readers. I really like it and highly recommend it.

Debbie Reese, AICL

Richard Van Camp on his hope for The Spirit of Denendeh feature interview in the Quill & Quire.

Angela Wright, Quill & Quire

The story and messages of honor, respect, peace, and human connection are powerful and moving. Valuable cultural and historical the story.

Kirkus Reviews, Kirkus Reviews

Among CBC Books 22 Canadian comics we can't wait to read this fall

CBC Books, CBC Books

A Blanket of Butterflies is a great addition to a high school library's graphic novel collection, a good choice as a supplemental novel for high school English classes, and certainly a must for any Indigenous studies class. Recommended.

Joanne Peters, CM Reviews

The connections are mind-blowing...a beautiful book...a fascinating story.

Shelagh Rogers, The Next Chapter

Among CBC Books The Best Canadian Comics of 2022

CBC Books

This beautiful new edition, illustrated in full colour for the first time, tells the story of a young Dene boy and his grandmother helping a Japanese man recover his grandfather’s armour.

Sean Graham, Active History

Among American Indians in Children's Literature (AICL) Best Books 2022

American Indians in Children's Literature

A Blanket of Butterflies is a powerful tribute to the ways that different peoples’ cultures and histories have crossed and become connected throughout history. This book has stunning and intricately crafted action sequences.

Spencer Miller, 49th Kids

Nominated for YALSA Great Graphic Novels for Teens List for 2024

Young Adult Library Association