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by Sherry Garland

illustrated by Tatsuro Kiuchi


School Library Journal:

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


  • ALA Notable Children’s Books: 1994


2nd Grade, 3rd Grade, 4th Grade, 5th Grade, Ages 9-12, Family, Loss, Vietnam War