Long ago, a beautiful and beloved child was born in Kampuchea, Cambodia. Her parents named her Lotus to commemorate the blossoms
covering the lake near her home. Lotus is deaf and mute and quietly grows up
watching and imitating the graceful birds, egrets, cranes, and herons that surround her.
She loves to weave baskets from the tall grasses and learns to communicate with her world through use of her hands
and dance. A loving and obedient child, she grows lonely for the friendship of
Observing her sadness, her parents take her to the temple in the city to ask
favor from the gods. Upon arrival at the temple, Lotus notices the temple dancers
and can feel the vibration and beat of the music. She begins to mimic the dance.
She gains the notice of the queen and king who are so taken with her; they agree she should train to become a temple
dancer. In time, she becomes the most celebrated dancer in the Khmer kingdom
surrounded by friends and admirers.
Beautifully illustrated watercolors, inspired
by twelfth-century temple decorations at Angkor Wat, enhance the quiet text and introduce the reader to the ancient Cambodian
culture and traditions of the court ballet. The beginning pages of this picture
book, are filled with the sights surrounding Lotus as she grows up in her village; elephants, herons, peacocks and interesting
looking plants and trees. The homes look to be made of thatch and bamboo and
the simple clothing worn by the villagers is depicted. Upon approach to the temple city, the scenery changes.
Elephant drawn carts and fish merchants come into view as well as the ornate
temple and elaborately dressed dancers with their unusual hand and foot gesturing.
introduces ancient Cambodian traditions and opens up exploration into the world of the deaf and mute. This story which takes place long ago encourages awareness that the issue of disabilities has always existed
and crosses all borders. While Lotus is deaf and mute, this seems to balance
and ultimately increase her other faculties. She is loved and valued by her family.
Her powers of observation are keen as is her coordination and sense of touch, empowering her to become a successful
and honored temple dancer. What great dialog this story opens up, encouraging
acceptance of people with disabilities rather than discomfort. “Through
reading about disabilities, students can learn to understand their own feelings related to disabilities and learn how to handle
interactions, solve problems, overcome challenges, and , perhaps most importantly, how to be sensitive” (Andrews 1998).