Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Silent Lotus by Jeanne M. Lee

This is a children's book about a small deaf girl in a small village in Kampuchea. This is based on the Silent Lotus legend. The legend was that this small beautiful deaf girl grew up to become one of the best dancers in the kingdom and danced for the king frequently. The text is set on a white page opposite the very colorful picture on the other page. I loved this offset because it really allowed me to focus completely on the picture and how it related to the text. This was a longer book, which I think makes it more appropriate for the 5-8 range but both my younger boys listened politely until almost the end. However, if you are weird about nudity, my children did ask why the girl in the pictures was not wearing a shirt when she was a child playing outside. Nothing is shown other than bare skin, no nipples or anything, but they did have questions, so if that is something you want to avoid, be forewarned. It did do a good job of illustrating to the children that having a handicap did not necessarily mean that you couldn't do anything with your life.

"From Publishers Weekly: Young Lotus was born deaf and unable to speak. Her days are filled with basket-weaving, swimming and walking among the wild birds, "joining them in their graceful steps." Although she is good-natured and beautiful, the other children run from Lotus, leaving her lonely and heavy- hearted. Seeking solace from the gods , the girl and her parents travel to "the temple in the city," where Lotus, imitating the temple dancers, exhibits the extraordinary talent that eventually wins her favor with the king and queen. Set in Cambodia, Lee's tender tale intertwines universal childhood concerns with intriguing elements of a rich and unfamiliar culture. The bold-hued paintings--of lush lotus blossoms, waterfowl and ornate costumes--display an Eastern serenity as they depict life in a distant land, though most of the human figures are less skillfully drawn. Young readers will be heartened as they watch Lotus transform into a successful woman despite her handicap. Copyright 1991 Reed Business Information, Inc."

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