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Silent Lotus
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Silent Lotus

5.0 1
by Jeanne M. Lee

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Although unable to speak or hear, lovely Lotus learns to perform the intricate story dances of the Cambodian court ballet.


Although unable to speak or hear, lovely Lotus learns to perform the intricate story dances of the Cambodian court ballet.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

“[A] simple but pleasing story with elegantly decorative paintings.” —Kirkus Reviews

“An excellent read-aloud book. . .A worthy addition to the multicultural collection.” —Booklist

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's 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. Ages 5-8. (Oct.)
School Library Journal
K-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

Product Details

Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Publication date:
Sunburst Bks.
Edition description:
Product dimensions:
9.04(w) x 10.43(h) x 0.10(d)
AD680L (what's this?)
Age Range:
5 - 8 Years

Read an Excerpt

Silent Lotus

By Jeanne M. Lee

Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Copyright © 1991 Jeanne M. Lee
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-0-374-46646-6


Long ago in Kampuchea, a man and a woman lived on the edge of a lake. A daughter was born to them. She was beautiful, with a face as round as the moon and eyes as bright as the stars.

The father and mother named her Lotus, like the blossoms which covered the lake. They were very happy with their baby, for she was as good as she was lovely.

Years went by, but Lotus was as silent as on the day she was born. When she was sad tears would fall from her eyes, and when she was happy smiles would light her face.

Her father and mother knew that Lotus could not hear. She could not learn to speak. They prayed to the gods, hoping they would take this misfortune away, and cherished their daughter even more.

One day, the mother and father pointed to the blossoms on the lake and to Lotus. Then the mother put her palms together with her fingers bent, forming a flower. Lotus understood. She copied her mother's gesture and so learned to name herself with her hands.

Lotus grew lovelier each day. She liked to weave baskets out of the tall grasses which grew around the lake and to swim with the turtles while her father fished. But Lotus was happiest when she walked among the herons, cranes, and white egrets, joining them in their graceful steps.

Yet Lotus would often sit by herself, lonely and sad. She wanted so much to play with the other children. But if she motioned to them, they pretended not to see. If she pulled their arms to get their attention, they ran away.

Her father and mother saw her unhappiness, but they did not know how to help her. They hoped for a sign from the gods.

Finally, they decided to go to the temple in the city. The mother put wild rice and lotus flowers in a basket as offerings; the father carried his precious daughter on his shoulders. They walked through many fields and villages, and over many canals.

When they reached the city, they hurried to the temple. Inside, the father and mother heard drums and cymbals. Lotus felt the vibrations. Then two lines of dancers appeared.

Elbows high and knees bent, Lotus imitated their movements. Long after the dancers had gone, the little girl danced. Her father and mother looked at each other. It was the sign they had hoped for.

They went to the palace. There, the queen noticed the lovely little girl and whispered to the king.

"Speak," the king said, pointing to Lotus.

"Our daughter does not speak or hear," her father said. "But she would learn to dance."

The mother motioned to her young daughter. Lotus began to dance the way she knew best, like the herons, cranes, and white egrets. The king and queen watched with delight.

"She is a most beautiful child," said the queen.

"She will learn to dance," said the king.


Excerpted from Silent Lotus by Jeanne M. Lee. Copyright © 1991 Jeanne M. Lee. Excerpted by permission of Farrar, Straus and Giroux.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Meet the Author

Jeanne M. Lee is the author and illustrator of many books, including The Song of Mu Lan and I Once Was a Monkey: Stories Buddha Told. She lives in Massachusetts.

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Silent Lotus 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I think this is the most perfect book for us. I found this book in the library when I was pregnant with her. I read the book to my son and he said,'Is that Baby Lotus?' My husband and I always wanted to have a daughter who would become a traditional dancer. This is a very sweet book that teaches children that they have many gifts to share with the world.