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
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.
Topic: Taiwanese Inspiration for Writing
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: There are many Taiwanese locations in Kai the Dancing Butterfly. Which ones are favorites?
A: Sun Moon Lake is one, because of the very fond memories I have from boating and vacationing there. Another favorite spot is Yehliu Geopark, where you can find sandstone rock formations sculpted naturally by the wind and sea. I still remember my grandfather taking us there.
A: The Taiwanese black bear, Formosan clouded leopard, Taiwanese blue magpie, Formosan landlocked salmon, Mikado pheasant, Formosan rock macaques, etc. There are many unique animals found only in Taiwan.
A: Some recent Taiwanese movies I’ve enjoyed: American Girl, Dear Ex, My Missing Valentine.
A: I love how friendly the people are in Taiwan, how delicious the food is, and how beautiful the sights are. It’s home to me.
One aspect I wish was different would be their dependence on plastic. Boba tea is everywhere in Taiwan and they mostly come in plastic containers. I do hope someday a more sustainable material will replace that.
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.
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.