Red Butterfly

How a Princess Smuggled the Secret of Silk Out of China

Illustrator: Sophie Blackall

Binding: Paperback

Imprint: Candlewick Press

Age 6+

Picture Books

“Written in the style of ancient Chinese poets . . . while splendid ink-and-watercolor illustrations poignantly capture the princess’s leave-taking.”Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

A young Chinese princess is sent from her father’s kingdom to marry the king of a far-off land. She must leave behind her home of splendors: sour plums and pink peach petals and — most precious and secret of all — the small silkworm. She begs her father to let her stay, but he insists that she go and fulfill her destiny as the queen of Khotan. An enchanting tale of hidden beauty and fierce courage, here is a coming-of-age tale of a brave young princess, retold in the style of T’ang Dynasty poetry and illustrated with charm and grace.


Deborah Noyes writes for both children and adults. Her books for young readers include Hana in the Time of the Tulips and One Kingdom: Our lives with Animals. For this book, Deborah used the influence of ancient Chinese poetry to create the imagery for the story.

Sophie Blackall has illustrated several children's books and has also animated for TV. Her books include Meet Wild Boars by Meg Rosoff, and Ruby's Wish. Of Red Butterfly, she says, "It was such a delight to delve into ancient China. From the moment I first read this story, my mind has been dancing with red butterflies and peach blossoms, lotus pools and autumn moons, princesses and secrets." Sophie lives in New York, USA.

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