Crisp, bright photographs and a simple, personal narrative create a remarkably informative look at the process of silk production in a Thai village.
The book opens with a legend about how a Chinese empress discovered a secret treasure in cocoons she’d gathered from a mulberry tree 5,000 years ago: The amazing fabric that could be woven from the long strands of the cocoons was a closely kept secret in China for hundreds of years. In this account, Sobol is a welcome visitor when he arrives in a Thai village at the start of the school holiday. Although the boys, he is told, are studying with the monks during the holiday, the girls help with the silk production in the village. The author introduces himself to readers as a learner (“Everywhere I look, I see something interesting happening and I hardly know where to point my camera”), and the inclusion of his own reactions gives the narrative immediacy and personality. A satisfying abundance of photographs shows the baskets of mulberry leaves with white, striped silkworms nestled munching inside, the cheese-puff–like cocoons, the boiling pots, the long fibers stretching over spools, the looms and the girls dressed in their silk dresses, all elaborated on and explained in a friendly and accessible way.
A pleasingly engaging look at the subject. (silk facts, glossary) (Nonfiction. 6-10)