Project Mulberry

by Linda Sue Park
Clarion Books, 2005
Language: English
Hardcover: 978-0618477869
Paperback: 978-0440421634
272 pages, ages 9 and up

Project Mulberry

Julia Song and her friend Patrick would love to win a blue ribbon, maybe even two, at the state fair.

They’ve always done projects together, and they work well as a team. This time, though, they’re having trouble coming up with just the right plan. Then Julia’s mother offers a suggestion: They can raise silkworms, as she did when she was a girl in Korea. Patrick thinks it’s a great idea. Of course there are obstacles—for example, where will they get mulberry leaves, the only thing silkworms eat?—but nothing they can’t handle.

Julia isn’t so sure. The club where kids do their projects is all about traditional American stuff, and raising silkworms just doesn’t fit in. Moreover, the author, Ms. Park, seems determined to make Julia’s life as complicated as possible, no matter how hard Julia tries to talk her out of it.


Read an excerpt from Project Mulberry.

Once you’ve read the book, you’ll enjoy “Silk Diary,” by Mad Scientist Ed Park

Project Mulberry


2006 CCBC Choices
2005 New York Public Library, 100 Titles for Reading and Sharing
2005 Chicago Tribune Young Adult Fiction Prize
2005 Chicago Public Library’s Best of the Best Books
2005 Notable Books for a Global Society
2006 Bank Street Best Children’s Books of the Year
2006 Kansas State Reading Circle Recommendation
2006 Texas Bluebonnet Master List
2006 Keystone to Reading Master List (PA)
2007 Kentucky Bluegrass Award Nominee
2008 Connecticut Nutmeg Award Nominee
2008 Golden Sower Award Nominee (NE)
2008 Iowa Children’s Choice Award Nominee
2008 Mark Twain Award Master List (MO)
2008 Massachusetts Children’s Book Award Nominee
2008 Prairie Pasque Children’s Book Award Nominee (SD)
2008 Virginia Young Readers Award Nominee
2008 William Allen White Children’s Book Award Nominee (KS)
2009 Rebecca Caudill Young Readers Book Award Nominee (IL)


“A rich work that treats serious issues with warmth, respect, and a good deal of humor.”

—Kirkus Reviews, starred review

“Julia Song is a delightful character introduced in this novel by Linda Sue Park. A seventh grader, Julia and her family have just moved to Plainfield, Illinois where they are the only Korean-American family in the neighborhood. Julia and Patrick become friends and need a ribbon-winning project idea for the state fair. Julia's mom suggests they raise silkworms, but Julia initially rejects the idea because she wants a more American project and thinks that raising silkworms will label her as Asian with all of her new friends, and she doesn't want to be identified with her culture. Julia accepts the project and is able to overcome the obstacles facing its implementation. Along the way, she learns to be proud of her heritage and value Patrick's friendship. At the end of each chapter, Julia holds a discussion with Park about the direction the novel must take and why certain things have to happen. Listeners interested in how authors construct a plot will find these segments intriguing, but it might interrupt the flow of the story for others. A question and answer session with the author concludes the tapes. Park is popular with the middle school crowd, and this contemporary tale would be a good addition to school and public library collections.”

—School Library Journal, Joyce Rice, starred review

“There are big issues in Park's latest novel—conservation, prejudice, patriotism, biology, and more. But the Newbery-winning writer never allows them to swamp the story; in fact, it's the compelling characters and their passionate differences and commitments that drive the plot. Julia Song doesn't want to do a silkworm project for the state fair. It's too Korean; she wants something American. But she becomes interested in caring for the eggs, the caterpillars, and the moths and then in sewing the silk thread. Kind, elderly Mr. Dixon donates the mulberry leaves the silkworms eat, but why is Mom against Julia spending time with him? Is it because he is black? The first-person narrative alternates with lively interchanges between Julia ("Me") and the author ("Ms. Park") about writing the story. The author's intrusion may distract some readers, but most children will be hooked by the funny, insightful conversations. There's no easy resolution, but the unforgettable family and friendship story, the quiet, almost unspoken racism, and the excitement of the science make this a great cross-curriculum title.”

—Booklist, Hazel Rochman, starred review

“Park creates a Korean-American seventh-grader so lifelike she jumps off the page....introduces many issues relevant to budding adolescents.”

—Publishers Weekly


The paperback of Project Mulberry is available from your favorite independent bookseller, your public library, or these online retailers:

Project Mulberry


The audio book of Project Mulberry is available from your favorite independent bookseller, your public library, or from these online retailers:

Project Mulberry


The e-book of Project Mulberry is available from your public library or these online retailers:

Project Mulberry