An adequate introduction to the Vietnamese refugee journey for young readers (Picture book. 7-10)

ADRIFT AT SEA

A VIETNAMESE BOY'S STORY OF SURVIVAL

A young Vietnamese boy and his family flee Vietnam in search of a better life.

Along with co-author Skrypuch, Vietnamese-Canadian Ho recounts his family’s flight from Vietnam in 1981. At the book’s outset, 6-year-old Ho returns home from school to learn that he, his mother, and his two older sisters will leave Vietnam that very night. Each hour of the Ho family’s flight is fraught with danger. Soldiers shoot at them on the beach when they make a run toward a skiff. Their boat springs a leak, and soon after, the motor dies, leaving 60 passengers adrift in the middle of the sea with little water and food. Throughout the harrowing passage, Ho’s mother is by his side, comforting him. On the sixth day of their four-day journey, an American aircraft carrier spots their boat and offers the Vietnamese passengers refuge. Skrypuch and Ho’s retelling focuses mostly on actions and events with scant attention to the 6-year-old boy’s emotional state. The primary narrative provides little context for readers who are unfamiliar with the Vietnamese refugee crisis, but detailed authors’ notes include history, photographs, and maps. The warm undertones in Deines’ oil paintings evoke tropical Vietnam. However, his soft, slightly out-of-focus images give Ho’s story a dreamlike feel that dampens the danger recounted within the text, according readers a luxury not afforded to Ho and the legions of other refugee children suffering through crisis, then and now.

An adequate introduction to the Vietnamese refugee journey for young readers (Picture book. 7-10)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-77278-005-5

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Pajama Press

Review Posted Online: Aug. 30, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2016

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A picture book worth reading about a historical figure worth remembering.

THE AMAZING AGE OF JOHN ROY LYNCH

An honestly told biography of an important politician whose name every American should know.

Published while the United States has its first African-American president, this story of John Roy Lynch, the first African-American speaker of the Mississippi House of Representatives, lays bare the long and arduous path black Americans have walked to obtain equality. The title’s first three words—“The Amazing Age”—emphasize how many more freedoms African-Americans had during Reconstruction than for decades afterward. Barton and Tate do not shy away from honest depictions of slavery, floggings, the Ku Klux Klan, Jim Crow laws, or the various means of intimidation that whites employed to prevent blacks from voting and living lives equal to those of whites. Like President Barack Obama, Lynch was of biracial descent; born to an enslaved mother and an Irish father, he did not know hard labor until his slave mistress asked him a question that he answered honestly. Freed by the Emancipation Proclamation, Lynch had a long and varied career that points to his resilience and perseverance. Tate’s bright watercolor illustrations often belie the harshness of what takes place within them; though this sometimes creates a visual conflict, it may also make the book more palatable for young readers unaware of the violence African-Americans have suffered than fully graphic images would. A historical note, timeline, author’s and illustrator’s notes, bibliography and map are appended.

A picture book worth reading about a historical figure worth remembering. (Picture book biography. 7-10)

Pub Date: April 1, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-8028-5379-0

Page Count: 50

Publisher: Eerdmans

Review Posted Online: Feb. 3, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2015

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26 FAIRMOUNT AVENUE

            The legions of fans who over the years have enjoyed dePaola’s autobiographical picture books will welcome this longer gathering of reminiscences.  Writing in an authentically childlike voice, he describes watching the new house his father was building go up despite a succession of disasters, from a brush fire to the hurricane of 1938.  Meanwhile, he also introduces family, friends, and neighbors, adds Nana Fall River to his already well-known Nana Upstairs and Nana Downstairs, remembers his first day of school (“ ‘ When do we learn to read?’  I asked.  ‘Oh, we don’t learn how to read in kindergarten.  We learn to read next year, in first grade.’  ‘Fine,’ I said.  ‘I’ll be back next year.’  And I walked right out of school.”), recalls holidays, and explains his indignation when the plot of Disney’s “Snow White” doesn’t match the story he knows.  Generously illustrated with vignettes and larger scenes, this cheery, well-knit narrative proves that an old dog can learn new tricks, and learn them surpassingly well.  (Autobiography.  7-9)

Pub Date: April 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-399-23246-X

Page Count: 58

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 1999

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