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RED BUTTERFLY by Deborah Noyes Kirkus Star


How a Princess Smuggled the Secret of Silk Out of China

by Deborah Noyes & illustrated by Sophie Blackall

Age Range: 6 - 10

Pub Date: Nov. 1st, 2007
ISBN: 978-0-7636-2400-2
Publisher: Candlewick

Even though she’s still “a child with my hair yet cut across my forehead,” the Emperor of China’s daughter must leave her father’s kingdom to marry the king of Khotan, who lives in a far-off desert oasis. The princess sadly recounts everything she will miss about her life at court: pink peach petals, yellow moons, pipa song, sparrows pecking at mud, red-crowned cranes and sour plums. Of the many splendors of her father’s kingdom, none is more prized than the secret of the silkworm that feeds on mulberry leaves. To reveal this secret means punishment by death. But according to legend, the little princess is willing to risk all. When she departs for Khotan, her maid has cleverly woven silkworm cocoons and mulberry seeds into her hair so she can carry with her “some small piece of brightness, some shining memory.” Written in the style of ancient Chinese poets, the text dwells lovingly on the pleasures of imperial life while splendid ink-and-watercolor illustrations poignantly capture the princess’s leave-taking as well as details of palace life in images evocative of Chinese screen paintings. (author’s note) (Picture book. 6-10)