Someday I’m going to have to write a picture book about a seed, since no matter how you come at the topic there’s always going to be something symbolic in there for everybody. The Carrot Seed, The Empty Pot, practically anything by Lois Ehlert — it’s all good. With The Lotus Seed, children are introduced to a piece of Vietnamese history and the comfort in knowing that time moves irrepressibly onward.
In this beautifully painted story that to me feels reminiscent of Chris Van Allsburg’s style, a young woman plucks a lotus seed from the emperor’s garden to remember him by. Though the monarchy has fallen, the seed is important to the narrator’s grandmother, and she keeps it safe with her during her wedding, the rearing of her children, and her tumultuous trip across the ocean to America.
Eventually the narrator’s brother foolishly steals the seed and plants it in the mud. He doesn’t remember where he planted it, and the grandmother is devastated. But then in spring — a flower emerges.
“It is the flower
of life and hope,”
my grandmother said.
“No matter how ugly the mud
or how long the seed lies dormant,
the bloom will be beautiful.
It is the flower
of my country.”
Eventually the lotus blossom shrivels, but it leaves enough seeds for everyone, including the teller of this story. She wraps her seed in a piece of silk with the intent of planting it and passing more seeds on to her own children. See? Seed stories just kill. You can’t lose. ABZ