Thursday, January 24, 2008
Noyes, Deborah. 2007. RED BUTTERFLY. Ill. by Sophie Blackall. Cambridge, MA: Candlewick. ISBN 9780763624002 [Suggested Grade Levels K–3]
In this beautifully illustrated volume, readers accompany a young Chinese princess as she prepares to leave her family and be married. Set sometime between AD 100 and 500 according to legend, the story revolves around the beautiful silk that China is known for is showcased in the beautiful robes worn by the princess, her mother and other ladies of the court. Blackall’s rich illustrations encourage readers to run their hands across the page, imagining the feel of the swirling silk.
The princess tells of the many wonderful things in the refrain, “In my father’s kingdom there are many splendors.” She speaks of red-crowned cranes, snowy blossoms of sour plums and the most valued splendor of all, silk. “Faraway rulers wish for China’s wealth and call it woven wind.” Although resigned to her place as a dutiful daughter and princess, she can’t bear the thought of traveling so far without memories of home, and has her maidservant weave tiny silkworms, along with mulberry seeds for them to eat, into her hair; thereby smuggling the secret of silk out of China. An author’s note gives a brief history of silk in China, The Silk Road, and silk’s impact on trade in China.
Let children feel a piece of silk, and create a map to trace the silk trade route. If ambitious, create a habitat with silkworms and encourage observation.
Other books by Noyes:
HANA IN THE TIME OF THE TULIPS. ISBN 0763618756
WHEN I MET THE WOLF GIRLS. ISBN 9780618605675
Books about the silk trade:
Gilchrist, Cherry. STORIES FROM THE SILK ROAD. ISBN 1902283252
Major, John S. THE SILK ROUTE: 7,000 MILES OF HISTORY. ISBN 0060229241
By Tammy Korns