December 3, 2010
Red in the Flower Bed: An Illustrated Story about Interracial Adoption
by Rosemary Bogdan
Tribute Books has asked me to write a review of the children's book Red in the Flower Bed: An Illustrated Story about Interracial Adoption by Andrea Nepa. And so I give you the following:
In 2001 Andrea Nepa adopted a little girl, Leah, from Vietnam. It is to this daughter Leah that Andrea has dedicated her book. "For my dear Leah, whose journey in her young life has already taken her to far away and unexpected places."
Red in the Flower Bed is a sweet book. The story is a simple one of a seed in a faraway place which is dropped by a flower onto dry ground. The flower, realizing the ground is too dry, allows the wind to transport it to a garden that is especially right for it. The seed germinates and grows into a beautiful red poppy, delighting all the other flowers with its new and different color. The daisy exclaims, "There is now red in the flower bed. And best of all, look down the row...We have a complete rainbow."
A lovely metaphor for the international and interracial adoption process, the story is told in simple rhyme that could be easily understood by even a young child.
The endearing illustrations and lovely message of hope and Providence make this a suitable book for children of all ages.
I almost wish the subtitle had not been added. It is, of course, important to the author as it is indeed a symbolization of the story of Leah's adoption. But the message could have an even broader appeal. It could, for example, invoke the saying "Bloom where you are planted." And I can see the allegory also giving comfort to children who have just experienced a family move, especially a move to a foreign country. The symbolism could be taken even further to unfamiliar and even scary situations where children might find themselves. Ironically, Leah, of whom the seed is a personification, did indeed find herself in such a situation when she was diagnosed with cancer in 2006. (She is, thankfully, now in remission.) That one can bloom and be loved and valued in the most unexpected and surprising of places is indeed a positive and powerful truth.
I recommend this book because of it's cheerful illustrations and enduring theme of hope...a lesson that is applicable to a number of life circumstances, even beyond the adoption process.
You can read an excerpt here. This is a dear book.