Child of Dandelions

By Shenaaz G. Nanji

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It is 1972, and fifteen-year-old Sabine enjoys a comfortable life as the daughter of Indian parents living in Uganda. But her world is turned upside down when President General Idi Amin declares Indians must be “weeded out” of Uganda in ninety days.

Praise & Recognition

"Readers will be shocked by the brutality [Sabine] encounters during this little-known historical episode."

Kirkus Reviews

"A gripping story of a remarkable teen who helps her family face impossible loss."


"A fascinating coming-of-age story... Nanji does not end the book as a tragedy, but with a feeling of hope...Told in a steady, rhythmic tone that initially belies the horror - and then makes it seem all the worse - Child of Dandelions is beautifully written. It evokes the terror and disbelief of the time. It reveals the strengths and shames of a culture that crashed from privilege to devastation in three short months."

Desi Life Magazine

"A gripping narrative that immerses readers in Sabine's thoughts so that they intimately experience her loss of naivety."

CM Magazine

"This is such a complex subject for young people, yet you do such a clear, concise job of making the issues understandable for your audience... The way you paced the novel, readers are putting together the facts along with Sabine—witnessing the shantytowns where generations of Ugandans had lived, discovering the warehouse filled with bodies... One of the novel’s great moments is when Sabine realizes that Zena must have been working behind the scenes to help her family."

School Library Journal

"The novel examines Uganda’s social hierarchy and the racial and religious discrimination of the time. But perhaps more importantly, it takes a close-up view of what it feels like to be a child awakening to the terror of a brutal dictatorship and being forced into a maturity well beyond her years. The refugee experience is particularly poignant as seen through the eyes of an adolescent and remains resonant today as thousands of people around the globe continue to be uprooted by conflict."

Professionally Speaking (Ontario College of Teachers)

"A stirring coming-of-age novel."

Quill & Quire

"This is a revealing story about the devastation that occurred during the dictatorship of Idi Amin and the resulting political upheaval...This book screams the question: 'Does history repeat itself?' There are so many parallels to the Holocaust, they are impossible to ignore. There are references to the Jewish plight in the book, which should prompt some emotional discussion among students who have been exposed to the dark events of the Holocaust. They won’t be able to help but ask themselves how these events could have happened in Uganda only three decades later... Female Intermediate students are especially likely to identify with the main character, Sabine, who is of South Asian descent...I feel a rating of 4 stars is warranted."


"Readers are not only invited to experience the vivid sights of Kampala in the early 1970s, and to experience it as home for Sabine, but also to follow her through the ordeal of sudden displacement based on ethnic and class conflicts...a story that delves into the consequences of sudden cultural displacement that many Canadians experience prior to their arrival in this country."

Jeunesse: Young People, Texts, Cultures

"As I do for all books that concern other cultures/countries than our own, curious reader, I highly recommend this for your next read. Though carry a packet of tissues when you do."


Exporting Alberta Award 2009 - Short-listed

Geoffrey Bilson Award for Historical Fiction, Canadian Children's Book Centre 2009 - Short-listed

Governor General’s Awards – Children’s Literature, Text 2008 - Short-listed

IRA Notable Book for a Global Society 2009 - Commended


Publication Date: September 1, 2008

Reading Age: 13 - 19

Genre: Teen, Children's Fiction

Product Format: Paperback

Pages: 216

ISBN: 978-1-897187-50-0

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