cover image The Red Thread: An Adoption Fairy Tale

The Red Thread: An Adoption Fairy Tale

Grace Lin, . . Albert Whitman, $16.95 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-8075-6922-1

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.)