My First Day by Phúng Nguyên Quang, illustrated by Huỳnh Kim Liên

Published by Make Me a World

My First Day: Nguyen Quang, Phung, Kim Lien, Huynh: 9780593306277: Amazon.com:  Books
My First Day: Nguyen Quang, Phung, Kim Lien, Huynh: 9780593306260: Amazon.com:  Books

Summary:  A young boy describes the journey from his home along the Mekong River to an undisclosed destination.  He paddles a small boat through waves and rain showers, seeing animals big and small all around him.  Some of the metaphors he uses may tip the reader off about where he is going: he gets to “write my name across the blackboard of a river”, and describes the sky as “a crayon box full of colors”. His travels conclude as he and his friends arrive for their first day of school. Includes additional information about the Mekong River and a note from Christopher Myers, creative director of the Make Me a World imprint.  40 pages; ages 4-8.

Pros:  This would make a great back-to-school book; although the Vietnamese setting may be unfamiliar to kids, the boy’s anxieties and excitement are universal.  The bold, colorful illustrations are beautiful, filled with both real and imagined animals.

Cons:  I was going to say this could be a Caldecott contender until I realized the illustrator lives in Vietnam.  Just had the same hope dashed about a Newbery for Too Small Tola by Atinuke.  ALSC, please change the rule that winners have to be citizens or residents of the United States!

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