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The Lotus Seeds


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About the Author

SHERRY GARLAND is the author of many award-winning novels and picture books, including Indio, The Last Rainmaker. She lives in central Texas.


Gr 2-5-- A nameless Vietnamese narrator tells of her grandmother who, as a girl, accidentally sees the last emperor cry on the day of his abdication. She surreptitiously enters the palace gardens and takes a lotus seed as a remembrance of that day and her ruler. She keeps the seed with her through vicissitudes of war, flight, and emigration until one summer a grandson (the narrator's brother) steals it and plants it in a mud pool near the family's American home. Grandmother is inconsolable when the exact spot cannot be found. The following spring, a lotus grows from the mud puddle and in time the elderly woman gives a seed to each of her grandchildren, reserving one for herself. The narrator vows to plant hers one day, give the seeds to her own children, keep the tradition, and share her grandmother's memories. This tale of hope and continuance is told with disarming simplicity. Interesting oil paintings, largely in earth tones, are slightly mannered, yet culturally accurate, and often moving in their amplification of the text. A warm addition to school and public library collections. --John Philbrook, San Francisco Public Library

The spare simplicity of Garland's tale about remembering one's birthplace is richly amplified by Kiuchi's arresting, light-filled paintings--his debut--awash with burnished gold and greens. As elegant as the lotus flower itself, the book's design includes subtle white borders on cream paper that frame both the poetic text and the opposing portrait-like illustrations. Garland ( Song of the Buffalo Boy ) focuses her story on Ba, a Vietnamese girl whose escape from the devastating war in Vietnam is told by her granddaughter. ``My grandmother saw / the emperor cry,'' she says, ``the day he lost / his golden dragon throne.'' Wanting a memento of the event, the child ``plucked a seed / from a lotus pod / that rattled / in the Imperial garden.'' Eventually, Ba arrives in America: ``a strange new land / with . . . towering buildings / that scraped the sky.'' (Kiuchi's overhead perspective of skyscrapers and streaming traffic is an especially striking image.) Ba plants the lotus seed; when it blooms, she gives each of her grandchildren one of its seeds so they will recall the land of her birth. The lotus, she tells them ``is the flower / of life and hope.'' Exquisite artwork fuses with a compelling narrative--a concise endnote places the story effectively within a historical context--to produce a moving and polished offering. Ages 8-up. Chil dren's BOMC Selection. (Apr.)

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