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Authored by human trafficking expert Dr. Kimberly Mehlman-Orozco and human trafficking survivor Jennifer Lowery-Keith, this book reminds us that some children aren't given all they should have to grow. Some children are mistreated and deprived, but they flourish and thrive anyway. This fable is about recognizing the perseverance and determination of those Dandelion Children and all of the wonderful things they can accomplish in spite of their circumstances. A beautifully illustrated story of resilience and overcoming adversity, perfect for any home or school library!
According to the dandelion child theory, there are three types of children–orchid children, who are highly sensitive and need a particular environment to survive; tulip children, who fall in the middle and require only the basics to grow; and then dandelion children, who grow anywhere, even if uncared for. In Dandelion Child, Mehlman-Orozco (Big Bad and the Bored Canary) and Lowery-Keith aim their focus on those young people who are ignored, abused, or generally mistreated, offering a book to lift them up and remind them of their resilience and strength as well as the beauty life offers amidst the darkness, as evidenced by Ana Rodic’s evocative watercolor illustrations.

The intended audience is both the dandelion children themselves, and any young people interested in learning about the theory, a hybrid approach that means less than half of the book is actually dedicated to lifting up those children. Instead, the theory and the lived reality of these neglected children is painstakingly laid out in details that illustrate the concept to kids who aren’t living that life, but could remind dandelion readers of all the troubles and trauma they have and may still currently be living through, such as “no one tucked you in at night,” “no one was there” to celebrate a winning goal, and “no one seemed to care” about a toothache.

Even so, the care that’s put into Dandelion Child by both the authors and illustrator clearly demonstrates–and makes the case for–their belief in the strength and value of these overlooked children. Regardless of the reader’s life circumstances, this exploration has the potential to uplift those children and teach others on the complexities of life as well as the lesson that not everyone is raised in an environment that’s supportive and loving. Mehlman-Orozco and Lowery-Keith ultimately tackle a tough topic while respecting the children they’re advocating for.

Takeaway: Children of all kinds will take heart from the uplifting message about the resilience of dandelion children.

Great for fans of: W. Thomas Boyce’s The Orchid and the Dandelion, Lisa Lanners Lewis’s Jayne's Story.

Production grades
Cover: A
Design and typography: A
Illustrations: A
Editing: A-
Marketing copy: A-

Kirkus Review

An earnest, well-illustrated work about troubled children and caring adults.