Saturday, May 9, 2015

The Lotus Seed 
By Sherry Garland
Illustrated by Tatsuro Kiuchi

Sherry Garland tells a meaningful story of the symbolism of a lotus seed for a Vietnamese woman.

Book Talk
The story is told by a granddaughter who relates events of her grandmother’s early years in Vietnam.

When the grandmother was a young girl, the Vietnamese emperor lost his throne, and she witnessed him crying.  She ran to the palace ponds and pulled out a lotus plant and seed to always remind her of this day. She cared for the seed.  keeping it wrapped in silk and placed under the family altar.  She had it for many years and even kept it in her pocket of her wedding dress for good luck in her marriage.

Grandmother began her family, but alas, another war had begun in Vietnam.  Her husband went  away to fight, never to return and leaving her alone to raise the children.

When the war was ending, the family flees Vietnam by boat.  Grandmother takes very little with her, but she manages to take her lotus seed.  When the family arrives in America, they are unfamiliar with the language and customs, but work very, very hard to lead a successful life. And they do.  

In  America, Grandma again hid the lotus seed under the family altar. By now the lotus seed not only symbolizes the emperor, but all that she has left behind—the country that she loves.

One night, the storyteller’s little brother finds the lotus seed and takes it.  He finds a muddy spot in the garden to plant the seed. When Grandmother realizes that her seed has been taken, she is heart-broken.  Little brother cannot remember where he planted it.

Sometime later, the plant grows and displays its glorious flower for all to see!  Grandmother is overjoyed as it reminds her of Vietnam.  She eventually gives the grandchildren a seed of their own.  The granddaughter wraps her in silk and hides it in a very special place.

This story is written is simple free verse. The font is large and there are two or three sentences per page.

Favorite line from the story:
"It is the flower
of life and hope,"
my grandmother said.
"No matter how ugly the mud
or how long the seed lies dormant,
the bloom will be beautiful.
It is the flower 
of my country."

Suggested Uses as a Mentor Text:
Book Genre: Realistic Fiction, Historical Fiction (Vietnam War)
Reading Workshop strategies: Fluency, Predicting, Connecting, Summarizing
Writing Workshop genre: Narrative Writing, Historical Fiction
Curricular Themes: Diversity / We Need Diverse Books

Sherry Garland’s website:
Sherry Garland's blog

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