Tashi and the Tibetan Flower Cure

A heartwarming picture book.
– Kirkus Reviews


Tashi, a Tibetan-American girl, misses her precious time with Popola (her grandpa) who has become ill. Determined to help him get well, Tashi remembers his stories about a flower cure used in his Tibetan village. She recruits friends and neighbors to re-create this Tibetan healing tradition. But will the flower cure work in America?

This story is about diverse people coming together in the spirit of healing and community. It’s based on a true story, “Downwind from Flowers,” written by Lee Paton.

Lyrically told and illustrated with impressionistic paintings, this story also shines a light on the special bond between grandchild and grandparent.


  • Written and Illustrated by Naomi C. Rose
  • Hardcover, 40 pages, 9 X 10 3/4
  • ISBN-10: 1600604250
  • ISBN-13: 978-1600604256
  • Lee & Low Books, 2011
  • Ages 6 and up

Read Naomi’s Book Talk interview where she discusses her motivation for “Tashi and the Tibetan Flower Cure” as well as her creative approach to this story.

Awards and Honors

Bank Street College’s List of Best Children’s Books of the Year.

InCulture Parent’s Selection as one of the 7 Global Favorites.

Nominated for a Children’s and Young Adult Bloggers Literary Award (Cybils)

Review Highlights

Kirkus Reviews
A heartwarming picture book presents age-old Tibetan medical traditions with a modern, positive, community-based twist…. uplifting and informative…
Publishers Weekly
The story… turns on two charming ideas: that of a child using ancient wisdom to restore the health of a relative, and that of a sterile American suburb becoming as close-knit as a Tibetan village.
School Library Journal
the rich, jewel-toned paintings do a wonderful job of supplementing the text…This heartwarming story is full of details and images that show what life might be like for a Tibetan-American child. Any second- or third-generation immigrant family will relate to the blending of two cultures, and all readers will relate to Tashi’s concern, fear, and desire to help.
Tashi’s narrative flows smoothly, gracefully introducing Tibetan words and customs…An excellent supplement for multicultural and family studies, this upbeat story provides a rare look at Tibetan American culture.
Shambhala Magazine
At the heart of this story is love–the love of friends, family and community.
Lee Paton, Author of Downwind from Flowers
The book is glorious! I couldn’t be more pleased with the content and the paintings. You did a fabulous job and I think you did justice to not only the spirit of the story but to the feeling I had when I was going through the experience with my patient. It’s a wonderful book.

Full Reviews

Kirkus Reviews
A heartwarming picture book presents age-old Tibetan medical traditions with a modern, positive, community-based twist.

Tashi, a young Tibetan-American, is greatly concerned for her grandfather, Popola, whose chronic cough weakens him every day. Having grown up listening to Popola’s stories, Tashi has learned about the healing powers of flowers in traditional Tibetan medicine and hatches a creative plan to help Popola reconnect with these ancient cures. Unfortunately, she quickly learns that not being in Tibet makes this a challenge. Determined to help her grandfather, Tashi creatively enlists the management of a local flower nursery to let her and her family visit. Although Popola is at first skeptical that this improvised flower cure will work outside of Tibet, he is pleasantly surprised when their community bands together to facilitate his healing. Painterly acrylic-on-canvas illustrations incorporate traditional Tibetan objects such as prayer flags and thangkas, sacred wall hangings, into a modern-day setting, providing a colorful window into both cultures. Additional Tibetan elements, such as Tibetan words and phrases, are sprinkled throughout and are further explained in a brief note on Tibetan-Americans at the end of the text.

An uplifting and informative peek into traditional Tibetan medicine through the lens of a modern Tibetan-American family. (Picture book. 6-9)

Publishers Weekly

Tashi and the Tibetan Flower Cure
Naomi C. Rose. Lee & Low, $18.95 (40p) ISBN 978-1-60060-425-6
When Tashi’s elderly Tibetan grandfather, Popola, falls ill, Tashi suggests they try the flower cure she’s heard him talk about. In Tibet, he says, sick people sit among flowers with their friends in the hope that the pollen will heal them. With the help of a friendly nurseryman and Tashi’s energetic encouragement, Popola pays a weekly visit to a nursery, becomes a minor celebrity among the nursery’s customers, and recovers in a way that doesn’t seem too farfetched. Rose (Tibetan Tales from the Top of the World) focuses on Tashi and her anxiety (when her mother drives Popola to the doctor, “My fingers fiddle with a loose button on my shirt while I wait”; when they return, “My heart races a hundred times faster than my legs as I run toward them”). The softly brushed paintings have a naïve, self-tutored look, but suit the text’s homespun tone.
The story, outwardly realistic, turns on two charming ideas: that of a child using ancient wisdom to restore the health of a relative, and that of a sterile American suburb becoming as close-knit as a Tibetan village. Ages 6–11. (Sept.)

School Library Journal

Tashi and the Tibetan Flower Cure
Tashi is very close to her grandfather, who has been ill for two weeks. Popola seems sad and lonely for his village in Tibet and tells Tashi about how sick people would sit downwind from flowers so that pollen would blow over them and bring healing. Determined to make the flower cure work, Tashi first tries blowing daisies over him while he sleeps, and then visits a nursery. Popola insists that the flower cure won’t work in the U.S., “without the magic of our land and people,” but slowly a community builds around the family as they visit the nursery and Popola improves both in health and spirit. With a blend of detail and expressionism, the rich, jewel-toned paintings do a wonderful job of supplementing the text. The emotions Tashi feels–hope, discouragement, worry, and joy–are shown not just on her face but through her whole body as well. This heartwarming story is full of details and images that show what life might be like for a Tibetan-American child. Any second- or third-generation immigrant family will relate to the blending of two cultures, and all readers will relate to Tashi’s concern, fear, and desire to help.


When her dear grandfather Popola becomes ill, Tashi asks him about a traditional Tibetan cure using flower pollen. Popola does not think the cure will work “without the magic of our land and people,” but she convinces him to try. Over a few Saturdays, Tashi’s family shares tea and cookies with others who become actively involved in the Tibetan pollen treatment. As he recovers, Popola comes to appreciate the caring community in his new country. Tashi’s narrative flows smoothly, gracefully introducing Tibetan words and customs. A few of the acrylic-on-canvas illustrations lack clarity, but the portraits of Tashi and Popola successfully convey their loving relationship. An excellent supplement for multicultural and family studies, this upbeat story provides a rare look at Tibetan American culture. Appended notes add additional cultural insight and a list of Tibetan words used in the story.

Shambhala Magazine

Tashi and the Tibetan Flower Cure, another children’s book, tells the touching story of a little girl named Tashi and her grandfather Popola, who misses his home in Tibet. When Popola gets really sick, Tashi remembers him telling her that some people in his old village used to be cured of illness by sitting downwind from a field of flowers, and this gives Tashi an idea for how Popola might be cured. At the heart of this story is love–the love of friends, family and community.

Spirituality and Health Magazine

A young Tibetan/American girl’s determination to soothe her beloved and ailing grandpa leads her to try an ancient cure from his home village. She runs into problems— the neighbors don’t have enough flowers and grandpa isn’t convinced the cure will work outside of his village—but she perseveres. Love overflows on the canvas paintings and Tashi’s struggle is beautifully rendered. Author and illustrator Naomi Rose was inspired to create this story of love and kindness after experiencing illness in her own family.—C.S.

Book Dragon

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!

Musings of a Book Addict

Tashi’s grandfather is not well. He used to tell her stories of how people in his village were cured by flowers. Tashi makes arrangements with a local nursery to bring her grandfather to sit among the flowers to make him better. He agrees but doesn’t get better. Mr. Wong the nursery owner asks him to come back the next week. When they go back the next week they serve all of the customer tea and cookies. People come to talk with him. In Tibet, people sit and visit in the gardens. This is what they call the “flower cure”. I love the book. The illustrations were beautifully done. The message of friendship and love carried all through the book. I know when I am sick that being out doors makes me feel better.

This is a wonderful book to teach about caring for others, as well as teaching about the Tibetan culture. There were a lot of Tibetan words used throughout the book. Great book.

Lee and Low Booktalk
Discussing Tibetan Medicine and Being an Author/Illustrator with Naomi C. Rose, Author and Illustrator of Tashi and the Tibetan Flower Cure

Tashi and the Tibetan Flower Cure is the story of a young girl bringing together community and tradition to heal her grandfather when he falls ill. In this BookTalk, Naomi C. Rose discusses Tibetan medicine and the power of community.

Tashi and the Tibetan Flower Cure was inspired by a true story. How did you hear about this story, and why did you decide to create a book based on it?

Several years ago, my father had kidney cancer, and my mother emailed me a story titled “Downwind from Flowers” by Lee Paton. The true story was about a Tibetan man with cancer who healed from his disease thanks to the love and power of the community who gathered to participate in the Tibetan flower cure. I was struck by the beauty of this story and thought it would be very inspiring for children. I also immediately saw it as having great visual appeal as a picture book.

Tashi and the Tibetan Flower Cure addresses a difficult topic: the fear of losing a grandparent. What was the process of expressing this fear through your writing and illustrations? What were some of the challenges?

It’s very important to me to be real with children, to not avoid the hard topics. On the other hand, I don’t want to scare or upset my readers. This balance was something I paid great attention to in the writing and the illustrations. To show the fear of losing Popola, I first showed her love and special relationship with him. In that way, the reader can more easily identify with the fear of losing him. Overall, I felt a light touch to the subject would go a long way. So I didn’t dwell too long on the fears. I also used lyrical free verse and kept the illustrations colorful even in the hard times of the story.

At first, Popola doesn’t believe that the flower cure will work without the magic of his land and people. Why do you think it worked, even though it wasn’t performed in Popola’s Tibetan village? What is the importance of community in Popola’s healing?

Popola was isolated, lonely, and sad as a Tibetan refugee in America. Like the man in the true story, when Popola escaped Tibet, he had to leave precious family and friends behind. He had suffered a lot (in the true story, the man had been in a Chinese prison for many years). In the Tibetan culture, illness is often viewed as stemming from suffering of the mind and heart. So in Popola’s case, when people came together to help him, he began to feel cared for by the greater community, a new village, if you will. This lifted his suffering and therefore healed his physical illness. In the true story, when the doctor couldn’t explain this miraculous healing, the Tibetan man said he could explain it. He said disease can’t remain in a body filled with love.

The flower cure is based in traditional Tibetan medicine. How did you research Tibetan medicine for this book?

In my study of the Tibetan culture and the practice of some of their traditions, I’ve learned their philosophy about life and illness and suffering. So when I came across this story, it made sense with what I had already come to know about their culture and it also made sense to my own sensibilities about healing. I had never heard of the Tibetan flower cure before, so I asked many of my Tibetan contacts about this. I couldn’t find anyone who knew about it. Apparently, it was a tradition specific to the man’s village. I also researched Tibetan medicine online and in books. And finally, I had some Tibetan contacts take a look at what I wrote to make sure I had it right.

The illustrations in this book are beautiful. What influenced your artwork? What was your process of creating these images?

Thank you. I knew when I first had the idea for the story that I wanted the illustrations to be colorful and bright. My favorite painting style is impressionistic and I thought the flower theme would fit very well with that style. I actually spent several months studying the impressionistic style at deeper levels than I had before. I had books all over the house opened to pages of inspiring paintings. I read what the impressionistic painters said about their approach and style. I painted some of the famous paintings to get the feel. Then I spent many months sketching ideas and refining the design with my art director and editor. Their help was invaluable. Finally, I got to the most fun part — painting the illustrations!

It is uncommon for someone to be both an author and an illustrator. Do you feel that the writing and visual creative processes are similar? Are there any difficulties in being both a writer and an artist?

I find my writing and visual creative processes feed each other. When I’m writing, I’m visualizing the illustrations. When I’m painting, I may realize something needs to be done differently in the writing. For picture books, it’s very freeing to know the illustrations can handle many details of the story so the writing can remain simple and crisp. I strive to have the illustrations and writing complement each other so they each have an important voice in the storytelling. The only difficulty in being both a writer and artist is that a project takes me a long time to complete. But I wouldn’t trade it for the world. I love being involved with the full project.

When you begin a new book that you are both writing and illustrating, which do you create first: pictures or text?

I start with the story. The story lights up my imagination for the pictures.

To help heal her grandfather, Tashi must understand the importance of her family’s background and culture. How would you encourage children to learn about the importance of their family’s culture?

Tashi learned about her family’s culture through her relationship with her grandfather. I think this is so important for children – to have those special relationships with their elders whenever possible. These elders can offer much needed wisdom, care, and family information to our children. Also, Tashi asked questions. That’s a great thing for children to do with their families. It can bring a family together in a special way and a lot of information can get passed on.

At the end of the book, you state that Tibetans who immigrate often face the challenges of preserving their culture, customs, and beliefs while adapting to American life. What are some of these challenges? What advice do you have for people hoping to overcome these challenges?

I have great respect for how Tibetan refugees have worked together to cope with the loss of their homeland, their community, and the context for their culture. Overall, they have a loving attitude as they go about all the new challenges, learning a new language, making a living, adapting to an extremely different culture. Because of all these challenges, it could be easy to be so overwhelmed that they lose sight of their culture and customs. Because of all the “glamor” of American life, it’s easy for the Tibetan children to be more interested in American ways and less interested in their own cultural heritage.

One of the major ways the Tibetans have addressed these challenges is to set up Tibetan cultural centers in many of the areas where Tibetan have settled. These centers offer classes in Tibetan language, Tibetan arts, and so on. They have regular activities that bring the Tibetan people together. These centers may also offer events for the public. Tibetans are very open to being part of the larger community, to being of service to that community, to sharing their culture with others, and to learning from other cultures.

I think these cultural centers are a great example to others who have these challenges to overcome.

What is a message that you want children to walk away with after reading your book?

Acts of kindness can bring many, many gifts to others and to our world.

Can you tell us about any other projects you’re working on?

I always have more projects! I have a special book about Tibetan wildlife that is just about completed. I’m working on a couple chapter books with a Tibetan-American child as the main characters. I’m also beginning the illustrations for my 3rd and final book in my Tibetan Tales series.