Red Butterfly, How a Princess Smuggled the Secret of Silk Out of China
Words by Deborah Noyes
Illustrated by Sophie Blackall
As a Chinese princess prepares to leave her home and family to go marry a prince of Khotan she reflects upon the many wonderful sights and splendors she will have to leave behind.
There are the palaces, the lush countryside, courtiers, but most of all silk.
She says goodbye to one thing after another and is nervous about going to live far away, so she decides to take one small bit of home with her.
Like the title says, it’s based on the story of how the closely guarded secret of silk was brought out to the world. Khotan also kept the secret for many years until it was smuggled out to the Byzantine court.
The words are expressive and poetic with the repeating line of, “In my father’s kingdom there are many splendors.” It shows the beauty and comforting homeyness of China through the eyes of the young princess. The illustrations compliment the words with lively colors and rich backgrounds.
This was found in the folktale/fairytale/traditional tales section in the library as it’s a fictionalized version of what we know of the event, but there are two full pages of backmatter with information on silk and its introduction to the world.
It’s a great story time book, but would also be a fantastic addition to a unit study on silk or Chinese history for children 4-10.