School Library Journal
PreS-Gr 3, Lin offers a contemporary fairy tale, using a story within a story to weave in a Chinese belief that "an invisible, unbreakable red thread connects all who are destined to be together." It begins with an Asian girl, who looks no older than five, asking her Caucasian parents to read a favorite story "again," thus introducing the main story: a royal couple both suffer a mysterious pain in their chests that nothing can remedy or explain, until a peddler gives them magic spectacles that allow them to see a red thread bound tightly around their hearts. They follow its loose end for days, crossing a sea, the pain gradually easing, until they reach a small village in a foreign land and find a gurgling, smiling baby at the end. A wise old villager tells them, "This baby belongs to you." Bright illustrations and vivid language will likely appeal even to preschoolers, though some children will need to have the connection to adopting a baby from China made more explicit through additional discussion. Karen Acres's Little Miss Ladybug & Her Magical Red Thread (Ladybug, 2003) also deals with this theme. This lovely book has general appeal, but it's particularly suitable for patrons requesting adoption titles, and especially transracial adoption of children from China.
A red thread connects those who are destined to be together, according to the ancient Chinese belief. A little girl holds up her favorite book as she and her parents snuggle on the couch to read. The next page transports the reader to the Middle Ages as, from their castle, a King and Queen gaze over the lush landscape. They are well-loved and their kingdom is prosperous, yet something is missing. The king and queen both have a deep ache in their hearts. One day a peddler offers them magical spectacles and suddenly they can see the bright scarlet thread, coming from each of their hearts and flowing all around them. The two set off on a long and difficult journey, following the twisting thread. At last they arrive at a distant village to find the pudgy bundle at the end of their thread. The illustrations are painted in deeply rich colors and are imbued with details that lend a fairy-tale ambiance. This is a splendid addition to the adoption category, but perfectly wonderful for any reader who likes stories that tug at the heartstrings. (Picture book. 3-7)
A childless king and queen, who are clearly Western in appearance, follow a wondrous red thread that tugs at their hearts and draws them to a "faraway land." They ultimately arrive at a remote village (it is obviously Chinese, although never identified as such), where they discover that a giggling baby girl has been pulling at their heartstrings. An elderly woman tells them, "This baby belongs to you." Lin (The Seven Chinese Sisters, see Picture Book Reprints) bases this imaginative story on an ancient Chinese belief that "an invisible, unbreakable red thread connects all those who are destined to be together." Some parents (and children), however, may be troubled by the conspicuous absence of the birth mother, or by the tale's resolution, which, in making the adopted child even a metaphorical "princess in the kingdom," draws attention to the economic disparity between the child's original circumstances and those of the adoptive family. But it's hard to resist the story's plainspoken magic. Lin builds a sense of awe and mystery as she unspools the monarchs' journey, and although her homey rendering style can border on stiff, the intense expressiveness of her characters and a regal palette make for emotionally vivid compositions. Ages 4-8. (Sept.)