Phi, Bao. Different Pond, A. Thi Bui, Illus. Picture Book. Capstone, 08/2017. pp. $15.95, 978-1-62370-803-0, PLB $23.32, 978-1-4795-9746-8. OUTSTANDING. GRADES K-3.
A boy describes a pre-dawn fishing trip with his father, who goes out before work to fish for food for dinner, not for recreation. The boy makes several references to the family’s culture, including, “A kid at my school said Dad’s English sounds like a thick, dirty river. But to me his English sounds like gentle rain.” Halfway through the story, the father mentions Vietnam, the war, and his late brother; the boy’s mom also works, showing a family with two working parents who struggle to make ends meet. The illustrations fit the tone of the narrative perfectly, with some full-page spreads and some paneled art, using dark colors and ink outlines. Endnotes from the author and illustrator both describe how their Vietnamese immigrant families influenced their work and include a few family photos. This succeeds as both a universal immigrant story as well as a story specifically about a Vietnamese American family.
Penny Peck, San Jose State University iSchool