Brief Annotation: This is a beautiful and emotional story about a Vietnamese family that was forced to flee from their homeland to escape the devastating civil war. This story portrays the struggle that the Vietnamese refugees faced and how they had to adapt to life in a new country while holding onto their cultural heritage. In the story, the grandma’s prized possession, her lotus seed, becomes a family heirloom that is passed down from one generation to the next.
Genre: Historical Fiction
Grade Level: 3-6
Reader who will like this: This story may be difficult for students in the younger grades to fully understand. Students in the upper elementary grades would definitely be able to grasp the context and main ideas within this emotional tale. Students who are refugees or have refugee parents/relatives would surely enjoy this story. It is not a story however that many students would pick up off of the shelf and find highly interesting, but would be better suited as a read aloud.
Rating/Response: 5 – This story is historically accurate and beautifully written. The illustrations that accompany the text are fitting and add to the deeper meaning of the story. Furthermore, the book includes historical information in regards to the history of the Vietnamese civil war, creating background knowledge for students.
One question you would ask before a read aloud: We know that this story has something to do with Vietnamese refugees coming to America. What can we infer the story is about? What are your predictions and why?
Reading Strategy: Questioning
Rationale for Strategy: There are numerous opportunities for think marks and questions during a read aloud with this book. Not only can students be questioned in terms of the situation in Vietnam and the experience of adapting to western culture, but students can also be emotionally questioned in terms of the characters’ feelings.
Posted by: Emma Henke