Garland, Sherry – The Lotus Seed

lotus seed
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  • Age Range: 6 – 9 years
  • Grade Level: 1 – 4
  • Lexile Measure: 880
  • Paperback: 32 pages
  • Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers; 1 edition (February 15, 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0152014837
  • ISBN-13: 978-0152014834


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.

Rationale for Inclusion: The Lotus Seed is a sensitive, emotional tale of a woman who witnessed the fall of a dynasty, a country that witnessed the destruction of war in their homeland, a people displaced into a country foreign to them in language and tradition. The Lotus Seed recounts Ba’s desire to hold a piece of her home in her hand, a relic of a dynasty lost, and the memories of her people. Passing on traditions is an integral facet of some families, particularly those in the Vietnamese culture. This book is a fantastic selection for a children’s collection which strives for diversity, to give all children a window into another world, or to provide children of immigrants the space to recognize their own heritage, the importance of their family’s stories and the immense honor of passing down those traditions to their own children in time.

The Lotus Seed read aloud by Pachion Carlson:



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