Cover image for Red butterfly
Title:
Red butterfly
ISBN:
9781481411097

9781481411103
Edition:
First edition.
Physical Description:
392 pages : illustrations ; 22 cm
Reading Level:
830 L Lexile
Geographic Term:
Added Author:
Summary:
In China, a foundling girl with a deformed hand raised in secret by an American woman must navigate China's strict adoption system when she is torn away from the only family she has ever known.
Holds:

Available:*

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On Order

Summary

Summary

A young orphaned girl in modern-day China discovers the meaning of family in this inspiring story told in verse, in the tradition of Inside Out and Back Again and Sold .

Kara never met her birth mother. Abandoned as an infant, she was taken in by an American woman living in China. Now eleven, Kara spends most of her time in their apartment, wondering why she and Mama cannot leave the city of Tianjin and go live with Daddy in Montana. Mama tells Kara to be content with what she has...but what if Kara secretly wants more?

Told in lyrical, moving verse, Red Butterfly is the story of a girl learning to trust her own voice, discovering that love and family are limitless, and finding the wings she needs to reach new heights.


Author Notes

A.L. Sonnichsen grew up in Hong Kong and then spent eight years as an adult in China. She now lives in Washington State with her husband and five children. Red Butterfly is her first novel. Learn more at ALSonnichsen.blogspot.com.

Amy June Bates has illustrated books including the Sam the Man series; Sweet Dreams and That's What I'd Do , both by singer-songwriter Jewel; and Waiting for the Magic by Patricia MacLachlan. She lives in Carlisle, Pennsylvania, with her husband and three children. Visit her online at AmyJBates.com.


Reviews 5

Publisher's Weekly Review

Evocative first-person poems divided into three sections-"Crawl," "Dissolve," and "Fly"-combine with small, delicate b&w illustrations from Bates to provide a framework that helps organize the chaotic feelings 11-year-old Kara struggles to express. Mysteries pervade her life: although ethnically Chinese, she lives in China in near poverty with her Caucasian mother, hiding her misshapen right hand in long sleeves, speaking English at home, unable to attend school. Mama promises that someday they will live with Kara's father in Montana, but for now: "Don't ask me,/ Kara,/ don't ask me." Piecing together her story, Kara realizes Mama discovered her, an abandoned baby, and stayed in China illegally to raise her. After this transgression is discovered, Kara finds herself in an orphanage as her Montana parents vie with another family to adopt her. Sonnichsen creates a palpable sense of yearning for home and belonging ("I want to explain, but/ I can't make my mouth form words./ How a place so beautiful/ can make me feel so sad") in this heartbreaking, heartwarming, and impressive debut. Ages 8-12. Author's agent: Kate Schafer Testerman, KT Literary. Illustrator's agency: Shannon Associates. (Feb.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.


Horn Book Review

When her adoptive American mother is deported from China, Kara, who was abandoned as an infant and who has a malformed hand, is sent to an orphanage. She's adopted by another American family and brought to the U.S. Illustrated with black-and-white spot art, the affecting first-person account in lyrical verse unveils the Chinese one-child policy and strict international adoption rules. (c) Copyright 2015. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.


Booklist Review

An innocent victim of China's adoption system, Kara was left in a basket and rescued by an American woman. An unwanted female baby with a deformed hand set Kara apart from birth, but Mama, her savior, was a 60-year-old Montana woman living on an expired visa. That Kara was never officially adopted and her mother was not able to work created for the pair a desperate life of stealth and abject poverty. Kara did not attend school and spoke only English at home, so her native language was stifled, and their world was terribly small, frugal, and fragile. When Jody, Kara's American sister, comes to visit, their secret is exposed. Kara is sent to an orphanage where she is placed with children with special needs, and she is eventually adopted by an understanding and remarkable Floridian family. Sonnichsen's sparse narrative in free verse moves Kara's life along with deliberate sentiment, effort, and loyalty. Sympathetic readers will appreciate that Kara learns to build trust with those who demonstrate their compassion in constructive attempts to right some of the wrongs of her difficult beginnings.--Bush, Gail Copyright 2015 Booklist


School Library Journal Review

Gr 4-7-After being found abandoned as an infant in Tianjin, China, Kara was never formally adopted by her American parents, leaving her with no identity papers. Kara's mother hasn't had a valid visa in years, but she refuses to leave China without Kara. Now 13, the girl is discovered by police who deport her mother and send Kara to an orphanage for disabled children (she has a malformed hand). There she struggles with her feelings of abandonment, and the emotional conflict from the reality that the Chinese government won't let the only mother she's ever known adopt her. But soon a different family wants her. After moving to Florida with her new parents and siblings, Kara continues to feel torn between her two families. Told in free verse that occasionally plays with form to capture Kara's mood and decorated with small illustrations mixing watercolor and collage, the narrative is broken into three distinct sections: "Crawl," set in Tianjin; "Dissolve," set at the orphanage; and "Fly," set in Florida. Based on the author's own experiences in fostering for years before being allowed to adopt from China, "Dissolve" is particularly heartbreaking and occasionally shocking, despite the underfunded orphanage being (under)staffed by caring adults. Readers everywhere will empathize with and root for Kara as she discovers where she belongs and her true home.-Jennifer Rothschild, Arlington County Public Libraries, VA (c) Copyright 2014. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.


Kirkus Review

Set against the backdrop of China's one-child policy, this emotional debut novel-in-verse reveals how one girl refuses to be left behind.Eleven-year-old Kara lives a sheltered life in Tianjin with Mama, an elderly, American, non-Chinese woman. Mama rarely goes out and refuses to send Kara to school like other Chinese kids. With money tight and a "daddy" who lives in Montana, Kara begins to question why they can't go live with him. When Kara's neighbor Zhang Laoshi tells her about being abandoned as a baby, Kara suspects that her hand, "with two short nubs / instead of fingers," is at the root of her woes. "This is why my birth mother / didn't keep me, / why she decided to try again / for someone better." Piece by piece, she discovers a shocking secret about why they must hide. Soon, an accident during a visit from Jody, Mama's older daughter, sets into motion a roller-coaster adoption process. Kara must make unthinkable choices and painstakingly claim with whom she belongs. Sonnichsen draws upon firsthand experiences in volunteering to improve China's orphanages and adopting her own Chinese daughter. With spare, fluid language, she creates the endearing, authentic, nuanced emotions of a girl stuck between two worlds and brings to light a foundling's hope and determination. An adoption story that's rich in family complexities and that readers won't abandon. (author's note) (Verse/fiction. 8-12) Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.