The Red Thread: An Adoption Fairy Tale
By Grace Lin

The Red Thread: An Adoption Fairy Tale
By Grace Lin

Children's book review by P.J. Rooks

Ages 3+

Parents and child meant to be together

"There is an ancient Chinese belief that an invisible, unbreakable red thread connects all those who are destined to be together," begins this tender tale of family bonds.

With a hint of karma and a boatload of love, Grace Lin spins a charming yarn about a king and queen who wake up one morning with terrible pain in their hearts.

All kinds of solutions are offered by the royal subjects, but nothing helps.

Finally, a traveling merchant passes through the kingdom and hears of the plight of the king and queen. He requests an audience and, wearing a pair of special glasses, he is able to see that the king and queen have red threads coming out of their hearts. Whatever is at the other end of that thread is tugging at it, he explains, and causing them pain.

couple trudging through snow

In order to stop the pain, they must find out what is at the other end.

When scissors don't work and nothing seems to be able to break the thread, the king and queen sadly embark. Traversing mountains and valleys, oceans and stream, their journey is long and arduous, but they eventually arrive, tattered and torn, in a small village. With the end of the thread in sight, they ignore the curious stares of the locals and race to find that a baby in a basket is the one responsible for all their troubles.

Joyfully, the family returns to their kingdom together and the baby is raised as the princess.

If you're adopting a child soon, becoming a foster parent or especially, if you are at last nearing the end of the international adoption gauntlet, then The Red Thread is a great book to share with future siblings.

A close look at Lin's richly colorful illustrations reveals that this is indeed not only an international adoption, but an inter-racial one. The king and queen are European, as evidenced by their clothes and castle, but the baby heralds from an Asian village.

Also, the story begins and ends with modern-day parents reading this book to their child, who, again, is of Asian heritage.

Readers (or listeners) will walk away from this book with a very strong sense of "this is our family and even though we didn't all come from here, we belong together." How very cool.

All that aside, though, I think I'm especially fond of this story because I am just so gushingly infatuated with the idea that people are connected.

Stories of families connected across distances or time and people around the world linked, in spite of cultural differences, by those common values that we all hold dear enjoy a quick climb to the top of my "Books to Buy" list, as this one certainly has.

Whether you buy it or get it at the library, read it to your child or re-tell it on a long car ride, I hope that you and your kids will enjoy The Red Thread: An Adoption Fairy Tale as much as we have.

Webmaster's note: This site features an entire page devoted to picture books about adoption.

More books about other places and times.

Read more of P.J.'s reviews.

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