by Bao Phi
Book list *Starred Review* Before dawn, a Vietnamese American man and his young son set out to fish for their supper in a nearby lake. As they travel the lamp-lit streets, build a small fire, and drop their hook into the water, the little boy contemplates his parents' lives, the everyday task of fishing for their supper, and the stories they've told him about living in Vietnam before coming to America as refugees. Phi's bittersweet story of the resourcefulness of an immigrant family is lovingly illustrated in Bui's evocative artwork. Her expressive ink-black brushstrokes stand out against a background of star-speckled, crepuscular blues, and at poignant moments in Phi's story, she movingly homes in on the facial expressions of the boy and his father. While the story occasionally hints at painful things, the gravity of those events is depicted in the emotional reactions of the characters in the present, rather than images of war in the past. The boy's father has fond memories of Vietnam, heartbreak for the people he lost in the war, and gratitude for the opportunities afforded to him in the U.S., all of which the boy silently internalizes into both appreciation for his life and curiosity about a place he's never been. This wistful, beautifully illustrated story will resonate not only with immigrant families but any family that has faced struggle.--Hunter, Sarah Copyright 2017 Booklist
From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.
School Library Journal K-Gr 2-This gorgeous tale about a father/son fishing trip shows the interconnectedness of family and the inexorable way that generational history impacts the present. The story is told from the boy's perspective, as his father wakes him long before dawn to go fishing. Although the child enjoys the outing as a special adventure with his dad, they are fishing for food, not sport, and they must be home in time for the father to leave for work. The quiet time together provides opportunities for the man to talk about his past life fishing with his brother in a different pond in Vietnam, long ago before the war and before coming to America. After they return home, triumphant, with a bucket of fish, the boy contemplates his role as the youngest in the family-no longer a baby-and even though he is sad that both his parents have to work, he knows there will be a happy, love-filled family dinner later that night. Bui's cinematic illustrations make use of panels and weighted lines, evoking the perfect background or facial expression for each piece of text. The text placement and composition of the illustrations allow each occurrence or observation to be its own distinct event, stringing together the small, discrete moments that make up a life, a memory, and a history into a cohesive whole. VERDICT This gentle coming-of-age story is filled with loving, important aspects of the immigrant experience and is a first purchase for all libraries.-Anna Haase Krueger, Ramsey County Library, MN © Copyright 2017. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
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Publishers Weekly Phi, a poet whose parents were Vietnamese refugees, draws from childhood memories in this story about fishing with his father before sunrise on the lakes of Minneapolis. They didn't do it for fun; it was a way to put food on the table. "Everything in America costs a lot of money," his father tells him. Sometimes, they run into fishermen from other marginalized communities: a Hmong man "speaks English like my dad and likes to talk about funny movies," and a black man "shows me his colorful lure collection." Though the morning is an adventure for the boy, it's the start of a long day for his father, who heads to work afterward (as does the boy's mother). Bui (The Best We Could Do) uses confident ink lines and watery washes of deep blue to evoke the predawn setting and tender familial relationship. Graphic novel panels and strong figures give the pages the air of a documentary as Phi celebrates an unexpected superhero: a father who endures a strange new culture, works to support his family, cherishes time with his son, and draws no attention to the sacrifices he's made. Ages 6-8. (Aug.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
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