Like a Dandelion

HarperCollins/Balzer + Bray. May 2021. 32p. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780062993731.
PreS-Gr 2–Like Thao Lam’s The Paper Boat, Lee’s story begins with a childhood experience set against a threatening landscape from which her family fled: “Like feathery seeds, we take flight, finding a new home even in the tiniest of spaces.” The scene right before a cozy, comforting city nightscape of lighted windows in apartment buidings is comprised of refugees and barbed wire, camouflage and barracks. A familiar story of an asylum-seeking family unfolds in idyllic scenes of a child’s play with a dandelion. The child and mother move in, settle down, and in one scene are shown reading Lee’s book In the Snow. From that reassurance in the backdrop comes some of the obstacles; the narrator, possibly Cambodian, is shy, but finds a little ginger-haired girl as a friend. By autumn, dandelion seeds are scattered in the wind and another girl, wearing a hijab, and her brother are the newcomers. An end note explains that the Cambodian refugee camp was in Thailand before the family emigrated to the United States in 1975. The simplicity of Lee’s melodic telling belies the serious and complex events before she arrived in the United States, and treats childhood and friendships as natural acts, arising from good soil and tending. It’s as hopeful as her dedication, to the country that welcomed her, and leaves to readers an expectation that they must rise to.
VERDICT In digital illustrations that have the grace of watercolors, this story starts with displacement and ends with deep-rooted belonging, for every collection, and every child.

Be the first reader to comment.

Comment Policy:
  • Be respectful, and do not attack the author, people mentioned in the article, or other commenters. Take on the idea, not the messenger.
  • Don't use obscene, profane, or vulgar language.
  • Stay on point. Comments that stray from the topic at hand may be deleted.
  • Comments may be republished in print, online, or other forms of media.
  • If you see something objectionable, please let us know. Once a comment has been flagged, a staff member will investigate.



We are currently offering this content for free. Sign up now to activate your personal profile, where you can save articles for future viewing