I’m so happy to see spring that I’ve decided to devote a few days to books that celebrate the season. The Dandelion’s Tale feels a bit springlike in that it’s about birth and renewal — the circle of life, if you’ll forgive the term. But it’s also about death and memory and yes, writing, too, if you can believe it. Frankly, I’m not sure if this book was the biggest hit with my six-year-old, but I’m not sorry I shared it with him. As I’ve said before, not everything can have the depth and scope of Captain Underpants.
In this story, an anthropomorphized dandelion wishes to tell her story before she dies, and a friendly sparrow scratches her memories into the dirt. The written words don’t survive a rainstorm, but the sparrow remembers anyway, and tells the story of the dandelion’s love for the world to her newly sprouted seeds (new yellow dandelions). I was instantly reminded of the last chapter from Charlotte’s Web, when Wilbur greets Charlotte’s three daughters with joy and relief.
Some might find the story a little heavy-handed, but I think the warm, gentle illustrations along with some absolutely beautiful writing are what make this story worth reading (or owning). “She spoke of milkweed and hummingbirds; of dancing butterflies and picnicking families; of busy ants and busier bees,” Sheehan writes, and it breaks your heart a little.
You feel awful when the sparrow finds his dandelion friend crushed in the grasses from the rain storm, but then again, those dandelion children appear too, and the sparrow preserves her memory by sharing her story with them. Life begins anew. So it goes (sigh). ABZ