Silk Umbrellas by Carolyn Marsden

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With spare, sure strokes evoking the customs and language of Thailand, the acclaimed author of THE GOLD-THREADED DRESS tells the graceful tale of a young artist’s coming of age.

"Your trembling is good, Noi," said Kun Ya. "That’s the way the butterfly moves. Let the movement spread to your whole body, not just your fingers. Paint with all of you. Become the butterfly."

Eleven-year-old Noi is learning to paint like her grandmother. She and her older sister, Ting, spend many rapt hours in the jungle watching as Kun Ya paints delicate silk umbrellas to sell at the market. But one day Kun Ma and Kun Pa announce that Ting must start working at a local radio factory to help support the family. As the days and weeks pass, Noi anxiously sees her own fate reflected in her sister’s constricting world. Can Noi find a way to master her fear of failure and stand up for her gift — and Kun Ya’s tradition — before the future masters her?

About Carolyn Marsden

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Carolyn Marsden's debut for young readers, THE GOLD-THREADED DRESS, received enormous critical acclaim and was named a BOOKLIST Top Ten Youth First Novel. Of SILK UMBRELLAS, she says, "This story was the first I ever wrote for children. It was inspired by time spent in northern Thailand with a woman who worked to protect the jungle and young factory workers." Carolyn Marsden has an MFA in Writing for Children from Vermont College.
Published February 2, 2004 by Candlewick. 144 pages
Genres: Travel, Children's Books, Literature & Fiction. Fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for Silk Umbrellas

Publishers Weekly

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Set in northern Thailand, Marsden's (The Gold-Threaded Dress ) graceful, compact novel centers on an 11-year-old who delights in helping her grandmother paint

Mar 22 2004 | Read Full Review of Silk Umbrellas

Publishers Weekly

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Then Noi's mother signs up Noi's 15-year-old sister, Ting, to work in a factory making radios—a tedious, joyless task.

| Read Full Review of Silk Umbrellas

Common Sense Media

Equally vivid are the descriptions of Noi's creative process in learning to paint delicate plants and animals onto the silk umbrellas that foreign tourists snap up at bargain prices in the market.

Mar 13 2005 | Read Full Review of Silk Umbrellas


When Noi's family falls on hard times, though, and Noi's older sister Ting is sent to work making radios at the factory, Noi fears that she, too, will be sent to work when she finishes school in just a few months.

Aug 14 2007 | Read Full Review of Silk Umbrellas

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