Book Title: Kai the Dancing Butterfly by Crystal Z. Lee
Category: Children’s Fiction (Ages 3-7), 38 pages
Genre: Children’s Fiction
Publisher: Balestier Press
Publication Date: February 2022.
Content Rating: G
Kai and Ami are dancing butterflies from Taiwan! They have a performance coming up at the Winter Festival dance show in the southern part of the island. They are currently in northern Taiwan, so they need to hurry and start flying south. That’s far for a butterfly! Kai is worried about the long journey, and about the big show too. Can Kai step up to the challenge?
Kai the Dancing Butterfly celebrates Taiwan’s natural scenic wonders, amazing animal species, and incredible Indigenous cultures. This children’s book is a marvelous read for all those who love Taiwan, or for those who’d like to learn more about Taiwanese culture. This elaborately illustrated picture book makes an ideal gift:
*Real locations in Taiwan make for an inspiring geography, history and cultural lesson
*Storyline sparks dialogue around empathy, kindness, courage, faith, perseverance, friendship, and the support between siblings
*Exquisite illustrations of Taiwan’s majestic animals and endangered species fosters learning around ecological conservation and habitat protection.
Kai the Dancing Butterfly by Crystal Z. Lee
Topic: Writing Inspiration
Q: What was your inspiration for Kai the Dancing Butterfly? Why butterflies?
A: Taiwan has over 400 species of butterflies, 50 of which are endemic to the island! Taiwan is also home to the beautiful purple crow butterfly population, which makes up one of the planet’s largest butterfly migration overwintering congregation. My children and I adore butterflies, so I was inspired to write a children’s book about this unique butterfly species from Taiwan, where I grew up as a child.
Q: What was your inspiration for the emphasis on Taiwanese Indigenous tribal clothing in the illustrations?
A: I collaborated with illustrator Allie Su, who, like me, also grew up in Taiwan. We researched special Taiwanese Indigenous attire and incorporated them into the story. It’s our hope that this story can shed light on the plight of Indigenous tribes in Taiwan.
Q. We noticed that in both of your children’s books, Kai the Dancing Butterfly and A Unicorn Named Rin, the focus is on animal characters rather than human characters. What is your thinking behind that?
A. I’m also a novelist and the stories for my older readers are all written from the point-of-view of human characters. Therefore for my children’s books I wanted to explore a different perspective. I also love animals and it was so fun writing about the various animal species.
Q: Tell us about your personal history with Taiwan.
A: My paternal great-grandfather was a journalist in Taiwan who aided the anti-Japanese colonial efforts. My maternal great-grandfather was a school principal in Taichung, and my maternal grandmother was a teacher in Taipei. My maternal grandfather worked at a bank, and his brother was a famous painter who held gallery shows. I grew up hearing all of their stories.
Q: How do your own kids and family influence the inspiration behind your children’s books?
A: My children are very fond of butterflies, unicorns, and animals in general! Kai the Dancing Butterfly is also a story about sisters, and I have two daughters and a sister as well. Naturally, I had to write a story about sisterhood!
Q: What kind of message do you want to impart in Kai the Dancing Butterfly?
A: I hope this book will spark an interest in learning more about Taiwan, and that it will raise awareness about ecological conservation and animal habitat protection. I also hope there will be more and more Asian American authors to add to the diverse landscape of children’s books that is much needed in the U.S.
Meet the Author:
Crystal Z. Lee is a bilingual writer who grew up in Taiwan and California. She has called many places home, including Taipei, New York, Shanghai, and the San Francisco Bay Area. Crystal is also the author of the children’s book A Unicorn Named Rin, and the novel, Love and Other Moods.
Allie Su was born and raised in Yunlin county, Taiwan. She attended Nanhua University in Chiayi city, majoring in Visual Arts. She is a professional illustrator, specializing in oil painting and ink painting.
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