Wishes by Muợn Thị Văn, illustrated by Victo Ngai

Published by Orchard Books

Wishes: Van, Muon Thi, Van, Muon Thi, Ngai, Victo, Ngai, Victo:  9781338305890: Amazon.com: Books
Wishes: Van, Muon Thi, Van, Muon Thi, Ngai, Victo, Ngai, Victo:  9781338305890: Amazon.com: Books

Summary:  “The night wished it was quieter.  The bag wished it was deeper.  The light wished it was brighter.”  The story of a family’s escape from their home in an open sailboat is told with spare text and illustrations, showing them saying goodbye to loved ones, walking a long road with three small children, and traveling by boat on a stormy sea until they are finally picked up by a larger ship and see their destination ahead.  “I didn’t have to wish anymore,” concludes the story, switching into the first-person voice of the young girl narrator. Includes notes from the artist and the author, telling of her family’s escape from Vietnam in the 1980’s and tying it into the story of present-day refugees.  40 pages; ages 4-8.

Pros:  It’s amazing how much of a story can be told in just a few brief sentences, accompanied by the lush, detailed illustrations, which should not escape the attention of the Caldecott committee.  The back matter fills in details and invites readers to think more deeply about how they can help new refugees.

Cons:  It’s hard to know what age to recommend this book for.  It looks like a 4-8 picture book, but I think older kids would benefit from it and understand it on a deeper level.

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