Although unable to speak or hear, lovely Lotus learns to perform the intricate story dances of the Cambodian court ballet.
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's WeeklyYoung 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. Ages 5-8. (Oct.)
School Library JournalK-Gr 2-- Lotus loves nothing better than to mimic the graceful steps of the herons, cranes, and egrets that frequent the lake near her Cambodian home. But because she cannot hear or speak, she has no friends and is often sad and lonely. Her parents, hoping for a sign from the gods, take her to the temple of the city. There she is intrigued by the temple dancers. At the palace she catches the attention of the king, who agrees that she should learn the court dances; in time she becomes the most famous dancer in the Khmer kingdom. The quiet text, told in the third person, gives no sense of the frustrations Lotus must feel or of the hard work necessary to achieve her position, just as the stylized illustrations, with their flat, lifeless human figures, fail to capture the movement and vitality of Cambodian dances. The page layout is nevertheless effective. Brilliant colors of the countryside or court life are set off against the stark white of the opposite page, holding carefully centered text with a small drawing above, reminiscent of the reliefs at Angkor Wat. Several spreads are devoted entirely to illustration. Libraries serving Cambodian populations will want to consider this offering. --Diane S. Marton, Arlington County Library, VA
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