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Child of Dandelions

Child of Dandelions

5.0 2
by Shenaaz Nanji

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A breathtaking account of one girl's determination to triumph over a devastating historical event. In Uganda in 1972, President Idi Amin, also known as the Last King of Scotland, announces that foreign Indians must be "weeded" out of Uganda in ninety days. Fifteen-year-old Sabine's life is changed forever. The president's message, broadcast on the radio every day,


A breathtaking account of one girl's determination to triumph over a devastating historical event. In Uganda in 1972, President Idi Amin, also known as the Last King of Scotland, announces that foreign Indians must be "weeded" out of Uganda in ninety days. Fifteen-year-old Sabine's life is changed forever. The president's message, broadcast on the radio every day, becomes Sabine's "countdown monster," and it follows her through days of terror. Sabine's father is convinced that, as Ugandan citizens, their family will be unaffected, but her mother insists it's too dangerous to stay. When her beloved uncle disappears and her best friend abandons her, Sabine begins to understand her mother's fears. She becomes desperate to leave, but Bapa, her grandfather, refuses to accompany her. How can she leave him, and where will her family go to begin a new life?

Editorial Reviews

Children's Literature - Uma Krishnaswami
With this book, it seems as if young adult fiction of the South Asian diaspora is finally moving into more complex, textured terrain than that of immigration and identity narratives, with plots driven by authorial visions of social justice. This novel is set against the backdrop of Idi Amin's 1972 expulsion of people of Indian origin from Uganda. All of the members of fifteen-year-old Sabine's family are Ugandan citizens, but as the 90-day deadline looms, they must face the reality of their worsening situation. Both the ticking clock and the complicated social forces at play in the story drive young Sabine, who comes to understand that she can no longer take for granted her instinctive reliance on friends and family. Small details of language, place, and time are impeccably crafted. The voices of the characters often come across as idiosyncratic and appealingly quirky. Lalita the neighbor is a shining example; her voice is in perfect key, vivifying the character in extraordinary ways. Another example is a minor character, Amina Goli, who begs for alms in Little India according to the race and social status of her intended donors. Nanji's writing sings in such scenes, offering an invitation to the reader to step into this history and follow Sabine on her journey. Sabine's friendship with Zena hits these high notes in many places, although Zena's ultimate fate relative to Idi Amin seems less than credible. Sabine occasionally seems younger than her fifteen years, and in a few places comes across as overly wise. Still, on the whole, the third-person viewpoint with Sabine as the focus allows room for the reader to gain the larger picture of a country caught in the vice of a brutaldictator. Both Sabine's little brother and Zena's brother Ssekore are more props than characters. It is arguable whether Munchkin's disability or Sabine's crush on Ssekore contribute much to a story already endowed with plenty of richness and depth. Child of Dandelions is a most welcome addition to young adult literature, promising to open up hitherto unseen horizons for its readers. Perhaps this means we will see other work to come, carrying such stories into the mainstream of children's literature across the age range. Reviewer: Uma Krishnaswami
School Library Journal

Gr 6-9- Fifteen-year-old Sabine lives a life of luxury with her wealthy Indian family in Kampala, Uganda. Then Idi Amin comes to power and things change quickly. All British Indians are expelled from the country. Sabine's father thinks they will be safe because they are Ugandan citizens, but they soon discover that they are in serious danger. Sabine's beloved uncle disappears, and her friend Zena, who is African, turns against her because Zena's military uncle has convinced her that the Ugandan Indians have exploited the African populace. The book effectively portrays the rising terror and violence in 1972 as Sabine struggles to deal with a world falling apart. Prejudices are clearly delineated, and the thin veneer of civilization crumbles as the chilling background beat of the radio relentlessly counts down the days left before all British Indians must leave the country. Sabine is a mature, intelligent character amid the chaos, and the political situation is well realized through her eyes. Secondary characters add depth to the story, and Sabine's star-crossed crush on Zena's older brother makes her a realistic adolescent. Nail-biting suspense is maintained to the end as Sabine must make the agonizing decision to leave her grandfather behind to save the rest of the family. Excellent historical fiction about a timely yet sadly universal subject.-Quinby Frank, Green Acres School, Rockville, MD

Kirkus Reviews
Drawn in part from the veteran author's own experiences, this deeply felt tale takes readers to 1972 Uganda where, shortly after coming to power, Idi Amin gave all Indians and citizens of Indian descent just 90 days to leave the country. As the countdown progresses, 15-year-old Sabine witnesses a rising tide of hostility against her generally prosperous community, manifested not just in glances and silences, but riots and public beatings too. Profoundly disturbed by the disappearance of her beloved uncle, the sudden distance of her darker-skinned best friend and the arguments between her fearful mother and stubborn father, she is torn between her attachment to the only life she has ever known and the desire to flee the terror, the swaggering soldiers and the widespread violence. In the end, Sabine and most of her family survive the harassment and worse to make a suspenseful escape. Readers will feel her inner conflict sharply, admire her resilience and quick thinking-and come away shocked themselves by the brutality she encounters during this little-known historical episode. (Fiction. 12-15)

Product Details

Highlights Press
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
5.50(w) x 8.25(h) x (d)
720L (what's this?)
Age Range:
11 - 14 Years

Meet the Author

Shenaaz Nanji was born in Kenya and grew up among a fusion of cultures: Bantu-Swahili, Arabic, and East Indian. She was in Uganda when Idi Amin seized power. Her family became refugees. She graduated from a university in Kenya and lived in the United States for a time. A graduate of the Vermont College MFA Program in Writing for Children and Young Adults, she now lives in Calgary, Alberta, Canada.

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Child of Dandelions 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book tells a great story about a Uguandan born Indian amd her family's troubles with prediuce.
hikergirl629 More than 1 year ago
Nice multicultural read centering on a Ugandan born, Indian teenager. It is set during the 1970s in Uganda, and all Indians are being expelled from the country. Sabine and her family don't believe that the government will follow through, but when the military starts to enforce the new law they are left to figure out what to do. What happens when you are forced to leave the only homeland you've ever known to resettle somewhere completely foreign to you? The story is painfully honest in it's portrayal of Sabine and her friend Zena. Will they remain loyal to each other or will they be torn apart? Overall, a good multicultural read for teens.