Young readers empathize with the lonely firefly as he looks for a group where he will really “belong.” In his search for compatible companions, he meets many other night creatures, but none is quite right—until the happy surprise at the very end when the illustration of a swarm of friendly fireflies literally shines and twinkles a welcome in the night. Heartwarming.
“In this book, the last of four that began with The Very Hungry Caterpillar (Philomel), a lonely newborn firefly flits through a summer night looking for companions but finds, instead, a light bulb, a candle, a flashlight, and the headlights of a car taking a family to a fireworks display. When the “sparkling and glimmering and shimmering” of the fireworks subside, the appealing cut-paper collage firefly happily finds a group of fireflies—which actually twinkle when the last page is opened.”
– by H.B.Z., The Horn Book Magazine, September/October, 1995
*Starred review. “With characteristic simplicity—and the now expected visual “surprise” at book’s end—Carle delivers another heartwarming tale about a diminutive creature on a quest. In the author/artist’s words, his latest story “is about belonging.” As the sun sets, a firefly is born: “It stretched its wings and flew off into the darkening sky.” Searching for other fireflies, the lonely little guy flies hopefully toward other lights (a bulb in a window, a candle, a flashlight, the shining eyes of an owl, car headlights, fireworks), only to discover that they are not what he is looking for. Youngsters will be as tickled as the no-longer-lonely firefly to find, on the last spread, “a group of fireflies, flashing their lights”—with the help of replaceable batteries (final version not seen by PW). Carle’s richly hued, collage-like art and gentle text will be comfortingly familiar to his numerous young devotees. Ages 4-up. FYI: In a personal note on the jacket flap, the author explains that this volume concludes the quartet that began with The Very Hungry Caterpillar.”
– Publishers Weekly, June 5, 1995
“Ages 3-6. Born one evening as the sun sets, a little firefly stretches its wings and goes off looking for others of its kind. Attracted by the lights, it flies toward a candle, a flashlight, a lantern, and finally a sky full of fireworks, only to be disappointed. When everything quiets down, though, other fireflies come out and flash their lights. The little firefly isn’t lonely anymore. Although the text may not be as strong as in Carle’s best picture books, its simplicity and its depiction of feeling lonely and finding one’s place in a group will appeal to preschoolers. As the flap copy says, “The Very Lonely Firefly is about belonging.” The illustrations, collages of painted papers, make strong visual statements in the artist’s signature style.”
– by Carolyn Phelan., Booklist, May 15, 1995