The Dandelion's Tale

The Dandelion's Tale

5.0 1
by Kevin Sheehan, Rob Dunlavey

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In this poignant story about the friendship between a dandelion and a sparrow, young readers are given a reassuring, yet emotionally powerful introduction to the natural cycle of life. One fine summer day, when Sparrow meets a dandelion with only 10 seed pods left, he asks how he can help. Dandelion laments that a short while ago, she was the brightest yellow, but

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In this poignant story about the friendship between a dandelion and a sparrow, young readers are given a reassuring, yet emotionally powerful introduction to the natural cycle of life. One fine summer day, when Sparrow meets a dandelion with only 10 seed pods left, he asks how he can help. Dandelion laments that a short while ago, she was the brightest yellow, but now a strong wind could blow away her remaining pods and no one will remember her. Together, they decide to write Dandelion's story in the dirt, and so Dandelion tells Sparrow all the things she has seen and loved. Later that night, a storm changes everything. . . . But the tale of Dandelion lives on.

Editorial Reviews

The New York Times Book Review - Sarah Harrison Smith
Obvious analogies to the human life cycle make this lovely-to-look-at, old-fashioned tale a little sad and a little sweet, like the best goodbyes.
Publishers Weekly
The character who dies in newcomer Sheehan’s story is a lowly dandelion, but doesn’t make her demise any easier to take. The dandelion, once golden, has just 10 white hairs left, and her last wish is to be remembered. A friendly sparrow spends hours scratching down her stories in the dirt: “She spoke of milkweed and hummingbirds; of dancing butterflies and picnicking families; of busy ants and busier bees.” A storm ends the dandelion’s life and washes away the stories, but Sparrow remembers them. When the bird discovers a new patch of 10 dandelions, he can tell them about their mother. Dunlavey, also making his debut, contributes softly brushed illustrations in watercolor, crayon, pencil, and other media that mix two equally handsome visual vocabularies. The world of Sparrow and the dandelion appears in objective greens and browns, while the dandelion’s past life is rendered in sun-bleached golds, limes, and pinks, faded brilliance just right for cherished memories. The focus on death and commemoration makes this the kind of fable that may find the warmest reception among adults. Ages 3–7. Author’s agent: Louise Fury, the Bent Agency. Illustrator’s agent: Elena Giovinazzo, Pippin Properties. (Mar.)
Children's Literature - Debra Lampert-Rudman
The dandelion tells that sparrow: “…if I could have only one wish, I would wish to be remembered.” These words and the feelings behind them set the stage for the beauty that follows in this future children’s classic by debut picture book author Kevin Sheehan. Debut children’s book illustrator Rob Dunlavey’s soft, charming colored pencil illustrations have tremendous depth and sensitivity. They show the aspiring writer Sparrow’s attempts to record all of the dandelion’s memories by scratching them in the dirt so that others will know and remember. Following a storm, Sparrow comes to realize that his work was in vain. The illustration of the circle of birds singing a song in praise of the dandelion is incredibly poignant. However, the most heartrending moment is felt when Sparrow shares Dandelion’s story with the next generation of young, strong, yellow dandelions. The cycle of life, the passing of a torch, the friendship of two very different beings, and an uplifting ending make for a very satisfying read for children ages 5 to 7. Reviewer: Debra Lampert-Rudman; Ages 3 to 7.
Kirkus Reviews
★ 2014-01-29
A sparrow fulfills a dandelion's last wish in this luminous tale about the power of storytelling to keep a loved one's memory alive. One summer day, Sparrow hears a dandelion crying. The flower is mourning her impending demise, worried no one will remember her. Wanting to help, Sparrow offers to write the flower's story on the ground. For hours, the dandelion shares things she's loved: the smell of the meadow, the laughter of children. Upon completion, the dandelion is happy, and Sparrow promises to come back—but a storm keeps him away. When he returns, the flower and her story are no more. Sparrow weeps; promising not to forget her, he sings. In this incandescent moment, other birds join in the dandelion's song. Weeks later, Sparrow discovers a patch of baby dandelions growing under the same tree. He shares with them their mother's story, confident she will not be forgotten. Lyrical illustrations done in ink, watercolor, pencil and crayon softly glow with a reassuring warmth. Done in a palette of earth tones, they skillfully convey the characters' points of view: lush, whimsical close-ups for the dandelion; expansive, bright swaths of landscape for Sparrow. Dunlavey's sophisticated compositions also give context to the dandelion's life cycle; in his dazzling field of gold flowers, readers realize the dandelion's legacy and the strength of her existence. Radiant. (Picture book. 3-7)
School Library Journal
PreS-Gr 2—Flying above a green meadow, Sparrow spots a lone dandelion crying in the tall grass. It seems that Dandelion hasn't long to live and wishes only to be remembered before she is gone. Once strong and yellow, she is now only white fuzz and seed pods. Together, Sparrow and Dandelion hatch a plan to write her story in the dirt so that all who pass by can read about her life. Sparrow gladly writes about her life and everything she loved while growing in the meadow. They make plans to continue her story the next day, but a terrible thunderstorm prevents Dandelion from being able to share her memories with Sparrow. A sad Sparrow vows to tell her story to all who will listen, but weeks, he later finds a surprise in the meadow that assures him that his friend will be remembered for a long time. This is an agreeable choice for adults to gently introduce children to the cycle of life. Warm, hazy watercolors and colored pencil render a beautiful meadow and convey the range of emotions. The dialogue between Sparrow and Dandelion is a tad too formal to engage younger readers and will most likely not inspire multiple readings. The book is lovely in message but might just be more purposeful than popular.—Carol Connor, Cincinnati Public Schools, OH

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Product Details

Random House Children's Books
Publication date:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
9.30(w) x 9.10(h) x 0.50(d)
Age Range:
3 - 7 Years

Meet the Author

KEVIN SHEEHAN wrote The Dandelion's Tale for his children when they were young. This is his first children's book.

ROB DUNLAVEY's illustrations have been featured in the New York Times, the Boston Globe, BusinessWeek, and the Los Angeles Times, among many other publications. A prolific diarist, Dunlavey has filled nearly one hundred black sketchbooks. He lives in suburban Boston with his wife, two teenage daughters, a tuxedo-clad cat named Cupcake, and Bruce, a self-reliant tropical fish. This is his first children's book.

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