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A Different Pond by Bao Phi
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A Different Pond (edition 2017)

by Bao Phi, Thi Bui (Illustrator)

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181561,019 (3.67)None
Member:AbigailAdams26
Title:A Different Pond
Authors:Bao Phi
Other authors:Thi Bui (Illustrator)
Info:North Mankato, MN: Capstone Young Readers, (2017), Hardcover, 32 pages.
Collections:Read, Read but unowned
Rating:****
Tags:Asian-American children, immigrants, picture-books, poverty

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A Different Pond by Bao Phi

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Vietnamese-American poet Bao Phi makes his children's book debut with A Different Pond, a poignant autobiographically-inspired picture-book about a young boy and his early morning fishing trip with his hard-working father. As the father-son pair make their way to a local pond to fish - something they do for sustenance, rather than sport - the boy-narrator reflects both on his immediate physical experiences and on his relationship with his immigrant father. Holding the bait, setting up a little fire on shore, and listening to his father's stories about his youth in Vietnam, he has a quiet but deeply felt experience.

Meant, according to the author's afterword, at least partially as a tribute to Bao Phi's immigrant parents, this lovely book features a gentle narrative that incorporates some un-gentle realities, from poverty to the trauma of war and leaving one's homeland. The loving nature of the relationship between the boy and his father, and between them and the rest of their family, is captured throughout, as the deceptively simple text depicts the father carefully waking his son, so as not to disturb the mother, or smiling in understanding, when the young boy doesn't want to put the minnows on a hook. The artwork by Thi Bui, herself a childhood immigrant from Vietnam, is beautifully expressive, with a subtle but deep color palette that captures the enchantment of the early morning adventure. There are visual elements here that suggest a graphic novel, particularly the artist's use of at least one square inset panel on each two-page spread, which makes sense, as Bui's previous work includes a graphic novel memoir about her family.

All in all, a lovely, poetic, deeply felt picture-book debut from Phi and Bui, one I would recommend to anyone looking for children's stories about family, about immigrants, or about the Vietnamese-American experience. ( )
  AbigailAdams26 | Oct 12, 2017 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Bao Phiprimary authorall editionscalculated
Bui, ThiIllustratorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
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Acclaimed poet Bao Phi delivers a powerful, honest glimpse into a relationship between father and son and between cultures, old and new. A Different Pond is an unforgettable story about a simple event--a long-ago fishing trip. As a young boy, Bao Phi awoke early, hours before his father's long workday began, to fish on the shores of a small pond in Minneapolis. Unlike many other anglers, Bao and his father fished for food, not recreation. A successful catch meant a fed family. Between hope-filled casts, Bao's father told him about a different pond in their homeland of Vietnam.
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