Van, Muon Thi. Wishes. Victo Ngai, Illus. Picture Book. Scholastic /Orchard, 05/2021. 40pp. $18.99. 978-1-338-30589-0. OUTSTANDING GRADES. PRE-3.
With sparse text and haunting illustrations, the author and illustrator tell the story of a family secretly leaving their home in Vietnam on a cramped boat headed toward Hong Kong. Saying goodbye to grandparents is expressed by the text: “The clock wished it was slower.” And of the journey itself: “The boat wished it was bigger. The sea wished it was calmer, The sun wished it was cooler, and The heart wished it was stronger,” but the voyage ends with hope and promise. More information about the experience of Vietnamese refugees is given in the author and artist note on the final page. The simplicity and understated beauty of this book make it stand out. Ngai uses a mix of digital and analog tools to create the rich, unique illustrations. Most of the pages are muted shades until the final spreads that use vibrant, brilliant hues to evoke a hopeful response. Readers and listeners will enjoy spending time taking in the beautiful illustrations that complement this poignant story.
Rachael Reiley, San Jose State University, iSchool Student