Make your own free website on
Multicultural Literature
Silent Lotus
Yangsook Choi: Biography
Yangsook Choi: Bibliography
Yangsook Choi: Book Analysis
The Thief Lord
This Same Sky
Wilfrid Gordon McDonald Partridge
The Eleventh Hour: Curious Mystery
Roll of Thunder Hear My Cry
M.C. Higgins, the Great
Goin' Someplace Special
Too Many Tamales
Pablo Remembers
My Name is Maria Isabel
Pablo's Tree
The Great Ball Game
Buffalo Woman
Morning Girl
The Mud Pony: A Traditional Skidi Pawnee Tale
Jingle Dancer
The Name Jar
Tree of Cranes
Good Luck Gold: And Other Poems
The Magic Paintbrush
Ella Enchanted
Silent Lotus
Real Heroes

Lee, Jeanne M.  1991.  Silent lotus.  New York: Farrar, Straus && Giroux.
     ISBN:  0374466467.


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 other children.  

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.

            Lee effectively 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).

Andrews, S.E.  1998.  Using inclusion literature to promote positive attitudes toward
     disabilities.  Journal of adolescent & adult literary 41, no. 6: 420-226.