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January 2019 Non-Fiction Releases

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The Orchid and the Dandelion
Why Some Children Struggle and How All Can Thrive
By (author): W. Thomas Boyce MD
9780670070107 Hardcover English General Trade FAMILY & RELATIONSHIPS / Parenting / General Jan 29, 2019
$34.00 CAD
Active 6.55 x 9.52 x 1.09 in 304 pages Penguin Canada Allen Lane
From one of the world’s foremost researchers and pioneers of pediatric health—a book that offers hope and a pathway to success for parents, teachers, psychologists, pyschiatrists, and child development experts coping with “difficult” children. A book that fully explores the author’s revolutionary discovery about childhood development, parenting, and the key to helping all children find happiness and success.

In The Orchid and the Dandelion, Dr. W. Thomas Boyce writes of the “dandelion” child (hardy, resilient, healthy), able to survive and flourish under most circumstances, and the “orchid” child (sensitive, susceptible, fragile), who, given the right support, can thrive as much as, if not more than, other children.

For the past four decades Boyce has been working with troubled children. The Orchid and the Dandelion offers help to those who have lost their confidence in the promise of a child gone seriously adrift—into drug abuse, delinquency, depression, or destructive friendships, the dark territory of psychological trouble, school failure, or criminality.

Boyce’s breakthrough research reveals how genetic makeup and environment shape behavior. Rather than seeing this “risk” gene as a liability, through his daring research, Boyce has recast the way we think of human frailty and shows that while variant genes can create problems (susceptibility to depression, anxiety, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, and antisocial, sociopathic, or violent behaviors), they can also, in the right setting and with the right nurturing, produce children who not only do better than before but far exceed their peers.

He describes what it is to be an “orchid” child, to live a life far more intense, painful, vivid, and variable than that of a dandelion. For orchid children, the world is often a frightening and overwhelming place. He makes clear that orchids are not failed dandelions and shows people how to embrace the unique gifts, abilities, and strengths of orchid children and how to create and environment at home and work that will allow them to flourish.

Boyce writes, as well, of dandelions: how vital they are to what George Eliot describes as “the growing good of the world,” even in the midst of their own struggles and life challenges. He writes of his own family, particularly of his sister, the inspiration for his work, an orchid child overcome by the family’s tragedies and sadnesses to which the author, as a dandelion child, was impervious.

And we come to understand that beneath the servicable categories of “orchid” and “dandelion” lies the truer reality of a continuum, a spectrum of sensitivities to the world, along which we all have a place.

CANADIAN CONNECTION: Boyce’s lab was in Toronto for most of his career, and he calls himself an “honourary Canadian.” He is the recipient of many grants (including MacArthur) and considered to be the foremost authority in the area of child development.

PROMOTION: Boyce is committed to at least a full week of Canadian promotion.

RADICAL: A new way to think about genetics and human behavior, already changing the way parents, teachers, psychologists, psychiatrists, and child development experts are coping with “difficult” children; a transformative view of human frailty and strength that shows us how all people are not the same, and that those who are different from the norm have great gifts to offer.

URGENT: Most families have at least one child who struggles more than his or her sibling(s) and who may well be an orchid child. Orchid children, who comprise approximately one-in-five children, represent an extreme on a spectrum, along which many more children exist with orchid-like tendencies and predispositions. Many will also discover that they too were orchids and can recognize and understand the challenges of these children in ways they never before could.

BUZZ: Written about in The Atlantic (“The Science of Success;” December, 2009), Wired, and Scientific American (November, 2011), Boyce’s discovery has been international news.

W. THOMAS BOYCE, M.D., is the Lisa and John Pritzker Distinguished Professor of Developmental and Behavioral Health and chief of the Division of Developmental Medicine at the University of California, San Francisco. He is also a member of the National Academy of Medicine and codirector of the Child and Brain Development Program of the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research. He lives with his wife in Oakland, California.

Author Residence: San Francisco, CA

Author Hometown: Palo Alto, CA

Marketing: Social ads

Influencer outreach



Publicity: Tour to Toronto for media and an event; possible event partners are the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research, where Dr. Boyce has professional ties, and Caversham Books

Explore opportunities for a tour to Vancouver and surrounding area since Dr. Boyce is based on the West Coast

National review coverage

Pitch for interviews in national media including CBC Radio The Current, TVO The Agenda, and The Globe and Mail

“Based on groundbreaking research that has the power to change the lives of countless children—and the adults who love them.”—Susan Cain, author of Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking

“Tom Boyce is the foremost scholar in the world in the area of child growth and development. I have no doubt that his book will have a profound impact on readers everywhere.”—Leonard Symce, professor emeritus of epidemiology and community health, School of Public Health, University of California

“Stellar research. A must-read for all parents, teachers, and psychologists.”—John M. Gottman, Ph.D., New York Times bestselling author of Raising an Emotionally Intelligent Child and The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work

“One of the most important books ever regarding our understanding of highly sensitive children. The Orchid and the Dandelion provides startling new insights and advice empowering parents and teachers to reach and support these hypersensitive children, in turn enabling them to blossom, thrive, and reach their full potential in life. Fascinating and moving, a true gift to parents and teachers globally. This book will create the much-needed paradigm shift in how we understand and treat children. And, equally important, it will help many of us understand our own personality and life path.”—Elissa S. Epel, Ph.D., Department of Psychiatry, University of California, San Francisco

“A book that must be written, and Tom Boyce is unquestionably the most qualified person to do it right! There is an extensive audience of parents and teachers whose lives will be touched by this book. The well-being of their children and their students will reap enormous benefits from what Boyce can teach us all about the valleys and the mountaintops of child development.”—Jack P. Shonkoff, M.D., director, Center on the Developing Child, Harvard University; professor of pediatrics, Harvard Medical School and Boston Children’s Hospital

“What is so timely about this book is that it brings a fresh perspective to individual differences. The author’s clinical and academic expertise is unique; his prose is lucid and engaging; and he tackles a problem of enormous importance.”—Charles A. Nelson III, professor of pediatrics, Harvard Medical School

“Impressive and important…A book I hope all parents and professionals (doctors, nurses, early childhood specialists, teachers, and others) will read. It will add to their understanding of how best to nurture each child, especially those who most challenge conventional approaches to treating, teaching, and caring for children.”—T. Berry Brazelton, M.D., from his foreword to The Orchid and the Dandelion

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