The Story of Silk: From Worm Spit to Woven Scarves

Overview

What does worm spit have to do with the world’s most luxurious fabric? Travel to Thailand for a close-up look at wrigglers, weavers, and wearers of silk.

Join author and photographer Richard Sobol as he picks up his camera once more and travels to a small village in Thailand for an in-depth exploration of the story of silk and the labor-intensive process of making it. From nurturing the silkworms to weaving the fabric and photographing the children as they proudly model the ...

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Overview

What does worm spit have to do with the world’s most luxurious fabric? Travel to Thailand for a close-up look at wrigglers, weavers, and wearers of silk.

Join author and photographer Richard Sobol as he picks up his camera once more and travels to a small village in Thailand for an in-depth exploration of the story of silk and the labor-intensive process of making it. From nurturing the silkworms to weaving the fabric and photographing the children as they proudly model the finished product, this first-person narrative, illustrated with richly detailed photographs, chronicles the amazing process of creating one of history’s most desired textiles.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
In this addition to the Traveling Photographer series, Sobol provides an intimate view of silk production in a small village in Thailand. Sobol’s prose has a light and inquisitive tone, as he learns about the process of creating silk, which begins with silkworm eggs from a Bangkok farm and entails boiling the silkworm cocoons, capturing the unwinding silk fibers from the cocoons, and finally weaving the threads together. The people Sobol meets bring heart to the story: men enjoy a meal of boiled silkworms (the author politely declines), and four small girls giddily model silk dresses made in their village. Readers will be surprised and entranced by the origins of this ubiquitous fabric. Ages 6–10. (Sept.)
From the Publisher
Readers will be surprised and entranced by the origins of this ubiquitous fabric.
—Publishers Weekly
School Library Journal
Gr 3–6—When author/photographer Sobol returned to rural Thailand to share copies of The Life of Rice (Candlewick, 2010) with the people he wrote about, he was intrigued to find the villagers involved in silk production and silk weaving-a dry-season activity-and he immediately began collecting material for a new book. In this engaging, first-person account, he shares his observations of the people and their customs as they walk him through their silk-making process, all of which is done, traditionally, by hand. First, thousands of silkworm eggs are obtained from a Bangkok farm ("silkworms" are moth larvae); when the larvae hatch, they are housed in large baskets, constantly fed fresh mulberry leaves until, after several molts, they pupate. Young girls carefully wipe off the accumulated waste material from the cocoons, after which they are slowly cooked to release the strands of silk, which are spun into thread, dyed, and woven into high-quality cloth (the insects are consumed as a delicacy). One or two sharp, color photos accompany the text on almost every page; depicted are the people and their surroundings, the implements used, close-ups of larvae and pupae, etc. An addendum offers miscellaneous facts about silk and silkworms. Silk boasts an attractive format, a clearly written text, and excellent photography, and it offers a fascinating glimpse of the Thai people and their unique industry. It will also serve as a fine companion volume to The Life of Rice.—Karey Wehner, formerly at San Francisco Public Library
Kirkus Reviews
Crisp, bright photographs and a simple, personal narrative create a remarkably informative look at the process of silk production in a Thai village. The book opens with a legend about how a Chinese empress discovered a secret treasure in cocoons she'd gathered from a mulberry tree 5,000 years ago: The amazing fabric that could be woven from the long strands of the cocoons was a closely kept secret in China for hundreds of years. In this account, Sobol is a welcome visitor when he arrives in a Thai village at the start of the school holiday. Although the boys, he is told, are studying with the monks during the holiday, the girls help with the silk production in the village. The author introduces himself to readers as a learner ("Everywhere I look, I see something interesting happening and I hardly know where to point my camera"), and the inclusion of his own reactions gives the narrative immediacy and personality. A satisfying abundance of photographs shows the baskets of mulberry leaves with white, striped silkworms nestled munching inside, the cheese-puff–like cocoons, the boiling pots, the long fibers stretching over spools, the looms and the girls dressed in their silk dresses, all elaborated on and explained in a friendly and accessible way. A pleasingly engaging look at the subject. (silk facts, glossary) (Nonfiction. 6-10)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780763641658
  • Publisher: Candlewick Press
  • Publication date: 9/25/2012
  • Series: Traveling Photographer Series
  • Pages: 40
  • Age range: 6 - 9 Years
  • Product dimensions: 9.10 (w) x 10.10 (h) x 0.30 (d)

Meet the Author

Richard Sobol, an author and award-winning photographer, is the creator of the Traveling Photographer series of children’s books. When not traveling, he is home in Massachusetts with his family.
"Though my fashion choices usually center around denim, I was intrigued by the process of silk-making. I was fascinated when I learned that some of the world’s most expensive clothing comes from a worm!" — Richard Sobol

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