Lotus is a fun-loving child that loves basket-weaving, walking with the birds and swimming with the turtles. But what Lotus wants more than anything is to play with other children. Lotus was born unable to speak or hear and other children ignore her or run away whenever they see her. Lotus’ father and mother pray for Lotus’ “misfortune” to go away. She travels with her parents to the “temple in the city” to seek help from the gods. There Lotus becomes enchanted by the dancers and tries to imitate their beautiful poses and style. Her amazing talent attracts the attention of the king and queen who invite Lotus to train as a dancer in their court.
Jeanne Lee is the author and illustrator of Silent Lotus and drew inspiration for her beautiful watercolor illustrations from the relief panels of the Angkor Watt temple in Cambodia. This is a simple story reads like a folk-tale and younger readers will be inspired by Lotus’ transformation from a lonely village girl into an extraordinary dancer.
I am always interested to learn how other cultures view and treat children with disabilities. Many cultures believe that a disability can be cured with “mystical intervention”. In some South Asian cultures parents often feel isolated from the rest of their community because of the perceived stigma of having a child with a disability.
I wasn’t thrilled with the whole “quest to cure Lotus’ disability” but I was impressed to find a story that not only deals with disability but discusses how other cultures treat those with disabilities. I also appreciated that it gives readers a view of life in Cambodia- a culture that many young readers may not be familiar with.