Tashi’s beloved grandfather – her Popola – has been sick in bed for two weeks. “’The doctor’s doing all she can,’” her mother assures Tashi. But Tashi soon realizes that what will help Popola most may not be medical at all.
Tashi asks Popola about how people in his home village in Tibet use flowers to cure illness: “‘Pollen from flowers can help heal,’” he explains. Inspired, Tashi sets to work on a local flower cure with the help of her best friend Ben. In spite of Popola’s protestations that “‘without the magic of our land and people,’” a flower cure is not possible, Tashi refuses to give up.
Her search leads her to Mr. Wong’s nursery nearby, with gorgeous blooms as far as the eyes can see. That weekend, Tashi and her mother pack a basket of black tea, butter, salt – for Tibetan-style tea – and, of course, some cookies. They bundle Popola into the car and take him to Mr. Wong’s colorful haven. Sharing their tea and cookies with friendly strangers encourages a little bit of local magic to blossom … the flowers and the new friends all come together to help Popola get better soon!
Inspired by “the true story of a Tibetan American refugee and the flower cure that was traditionally used in his village,” author/illustrator Naomi C. Rose creates a gentle immigration story celebrating multi-generational family bonds. While young Tashi is a product of her hybrid world – a Tibetan American comfortable in her own skin – she empathetically recognizes the emotional challenges of her immigrant grandfather.
Although their American home is filled with many Tibetan reminders – some of the language, the prayers, the beautiful thangka (Tibetan scroll paintings of the sacred) – Tashi knows that what’s missing most for Popola is a sense of community. Her attempts to recreate the flower cure for her beloved grandfather ultimately becomes a journey of finding, growing, and nurturing connections.
Regardless of our backgrounds, we could all use a little more of that!