Friday 29 March 2013

ReadItDaddy's Book of the Week, Week Ending Friday 29th March 2013 - "Red Butterfly" by Deborah Noyes and Sophie Blackall (Candlewick Press)

Our book of the week this week is something spectacular and unusual, and a book that made Charlotte's eyes pop out with delight as soon as she saw the luxurious and beautiful illustrations on the cover.

"Red Butterfly" tells the story of how a lone Princess smuggled the secret of China's amazing silk out of the country, after being promised in marriage to the ruler of a kingdom far from her home.

We follow her life as, from an early age, she is surrounded by beauty and the richness of her father's land - and how her secret acts of rebellion change the course of history.

We've shown Charlotte a few amazing instances of Chinese folklore and have also told her that Mulan (one of her favourite Disney films) was a traditional Chinese folk tale long before it got the Disney treatment.

The story is joyful at times, as we see the Princess's rather privileged life not affecting her appreciation of how lucky she is, and where true beauty lies. It's also quite sad as she is inevitably drawn into the politics of empires rising and falling, and how tradition could not be swayed, even at the behest of a royal princess.

We talked about silk worms - when I was a wee whippersnapper we were taken on a school trip to a silk farm and shown where silk came from. A massive source of amusement to a coach full of schoolchildren that something people weave such beautiful clothing (and underwear!) out of could've originated from a worm's bottom! Our learning journey, finding out about silk, has only just begun but it's actually a good topic for classroom if you can get past the rather unsavoury commercial processes that harvest whole silk cocoons by essentially killing the poor larvae inside! Eek!)

This book is incredible though, beautifully illustrated, and presents an almost dream-like story filled to the brim with atmosphere and quite a lot of excitement (particularly if your child is interested in other cultures and their history).

A very well deserved book of the week.

Charlotte's best bit: The Princess' amazing flowing dresses and silken robes so beautifully illustrated by Sophie Blackall

Daddy's favourite bit: A luxurious piece of work that feels delicate and approachable, with a folk-tale feel. Brilliant!