Texas Great Read 2020

Butterfly Yellow 

by Thanhhà Lại

Meet the Author | Educator's Guide | Additional Resources

Thanhhà Lại Photo Credit: Paula Landry

The Texas Center for the Book at the Texas State Library and Archives Commission has chosen Butterfly Yellow by Thanhhà Lại as the Texas Great Read for 2020. Every year, the Library of Congress asks each state Center for the Book to select a title that represents the state’s literary landscape to highlight at the National Book Festival, sponsored by the Library of Congress. The event showcases the importance of books and reading. In 2020, the 20th Library of Congress National Book Festival took place virtually the weekend of September 25-27.

Access to the e-book of Butterfly Yellow was available to all Texas residents from November 16, 2020, through January 16, 2021.

Libraries, book clubs, and others interested in promoting the Great Read may download graphics, suggested social media captions, a press release template, and more, from the promotions website. If you have questions regarding access, please contact Karen McElfresh, Resource Sharing Projects Coordinator, at kmcelfresh@tsl.texas.gov.


"Butterfly Yellow" book cover

Butterfly Yellow by Thanhhà Lại 

In the final days of the Việt Nam War, Hằng takes her little brother, Linh, to the airport, determined to find a way to safety in America. In a split second, Linh is ripped from her arms—and Hằng is left behind in the war-torn country.

Six years later, Hằng has made the brutal journey from Việt Nam and is now in Texas as a refugee. She doesn’t know how she will find the little brother who was taken from her until she meets LeeRoy, a city boy with big rodeo dreams, who decides to help her.

Hằng is overjoyed when she reunites with Linh. But when she realizes he doesn’t remember her, their family, or Việt Nam, her heart is crushed. Though the distance between them feels greater than ever, Hằng has come so far that she will do anything to bridge the gap.





About the Author

Thanhhà Lại is a Vietnamese-American writer of middle-grade and young adult novels with some Texas roots. She spent her teens in Fort Worth, Texas and graduated from the University of Texas Austin in 1988. Thanhhà remembers being in drill team, wearing a homecoming mum bigger than herself, and saying “y’all” as frequently as eating chicken fried steak. She now talks fast and loud as a New Yorker, but when in Texas she automatically switches to “y’all” and saying “Coke” to mean any soft drink. She now lives in upstate New York with her husband and daughter. Her dog Pico assists her by stepping directly on her keyboard as she types.

Her first novel, Inside Out & Back Again (2011), which won the National Book Award and a Newbery Honor, was partly based on her childhood as a refugee growing up in the southern United States. Other books include Listen, Slowly (2015) and Butterfly Yellow (2019), her young adult fiction debut.

Pronounced "Than-ha.”



Reader/Teacher Resources

Educator guide courtesy of HarperCollins Publishers.

Visit the author’s website for more resources.

See current and past Great Read book selections from all 50 states.

Access more Butterfly Yellow resources, including an audio excerpt, Meet-the-Author recording, and Audio Name Pronunciation with Thanhhà Lại, by visiting Teaching Books/Book Connections.

These tools are available using the TexQuest (for K-12 school libraries) and TexShare (for public and academic libraries) electronic resources programs made possible by the Texas State Library and Archives Commission. If you have questions regarding access please contact k12@tsl.texas.gov.

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2019 Texas Great Read|2018 Texas Great Read| 2017 Texas Great Read| 2016 Texas Great Read|

Page last modified: May 26, 2023