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A moving and illuminating story of family, war, courage, and newfound home.

A Vietnamese family’s escape from impending war.

In 1975 Saigon, a young girl—based on the author’s older sister Linh—and her family cross a bustling street. It’s intimidatingly busy, but Ba and Ma taught her, “Don’t be afraid….Just walk. Don’t stop.” And with a deep breath, they make it. But soon the “slap slap of sandals” and “buzz hum of motorbikes” are joined by the new sounds of war—like warning whistles and booms. “Saigon is falling,” and the family, like many others, attempts to leave. Drawing from her and her family’s experience fleeing Vietnam, Mai Giang relied on accounts from Linh and others to tell this fictionalized story of the last commercial flight out of Saigon before its surrender to North Vietnam. Ba’s company, Pan Am, promised to fly the family to America, but bureaucracy and logistics complicate things as conflict grows. With the help and kindness of others, including Ba’s boss, Mr. Topping (who is Black), one last flight departs—with the protagonist and her family on it. Bringing the narrative full circle, with a deep breath, the family crosses the street to their new home. Mai Giang’s sensory-filled prose gently and evocatively communicates a personal wartime story. Phumiruk’s clean, soft illustrations, done in Photoshop and pencil, bring to life a gamut of emotions. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

A moving and illuminating story of family, war, courage, and newfound home. (author’s note, facts about the flight, photo of author and her family, bibliography) (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: April 4, 2023

ISBN: 978-1-64614-086-2

Page Count: 56

Publisher: Levine Querido

Review Posted Online: Jan. 11, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2023

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From the Adventures of Henry Whiskers series , Vol. 1

Innocuous adventuring on the smallest of scales.

The Mouse and the Motorcycle (1965) upgrades to The Mice and the Rolls-Royce.

In Windsor Castle there sits a “dollhouse like no other,” replete with working plumbing, electricity, and even a full library of real, tiny books. Called Queen Mary’s Dollhouse, it also plays host to the Whiskers family, a clan of mice that has maintained the house for generations. Henry Whiskers and his cousin Jeremy get up to the usual high jinks young mice get up to, but when Henry’s little sister Isabel goes missing at the same time that the humans decide to clean the house up, the usually bookish big brother goes on the adventure of his life. Now Henry is driving cars, avoiding cats, escaping rats, and all before the upcoming mouse Masquerade. Like an extended version of Beatrix Potter’s The Tale of Two Bad Mice (1904), Priebe keeps this short chapter book constantly moving, with Duncan’s peppy art a cute capper. Oddly, the dollhouse itself plays only the smallest of roles in this story, and no factual information on the real Queen Mary’s Dolls’ House is included at the tale’s end (an opportunity lost).

Innocuous adventuring on the smallest of scales. (Fantasy. 6-8)

Pub Date: Jan. 3, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4814-6575-5

Page Count: 144

Publisher: Aladdin

Review Posted Online: Sept. 18, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2016

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A stunning, honest, yet age-appropriate depiction of historical injustice.

Giddens’ song commemorating the 155th anniversary of Juneteenth is adapted into a picture book centering history and resilience.

Written in second person, the story begins “You brought me here / to build your house” and depicts a Black family joining enslaved Black laborers in a field, transported and supervised by a White person. The family helps the others lay bricks and pick cotton until they are sent away, with the White person gesturing for them to leave (“you told me… // GO”). Against a backdrop of green fields and blue mountains, the family finds “a place / To build my house,” enjoying freedom, until “you said I couldn’t / Build a house / And so you burnt it…// DOWN.” Beside the ashes, the family writes a song; images depict instruments and musical notes being pulled from the family; and another illustration shows White people dancing and playing. The family travels “far and wide” and finds a new place where they can write a song and “put my story down.” Instruments in hand, the family establishes itself once again in the land. This deeply moving portrait of the push and pull of history is made concrete through Mikai’s art, which features bright green landscapes, expressive faces, and ultimately hopeful compositions. Giddens’ powerful, spare poetry, spanning centuries of American history, is breathtaking. Readers who discover her music through this book and the online recording (included as a QR code) will be forever glad they picked up this book. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

A stunning, honest, yet age-appropriate depiction of historical injustice. (afterword) (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 11, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-5362-2252-4

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: June 7, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2022

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