Parents' Guide to

A Different Pond

By Jan Carr, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 6+

Exquisitely tender family story of Vietnamese refugees.

Book Bao Phi Picture Book 2017
A Different Pond Poster Image

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This tender, masterful family story about a hardworking refugee dad and his son focuses on a simple outing that speaks volumes about their lives and the strong ties that bind them. In A Different Pond, author Bao Phi chooses just the right sensory detail to bring the reader into the experience. As they drive before the sun comes up, "Dad turns on the heater," and when they finish fishing, they wash their hands "with a small nub of green and white soap." Phi also has a poet's ear for language. The minnows they buy for bait "swim like silver arrows in my hands." And the boy looks up "to see faint stars like freckles." Phi references Vietnam and the war, giving the reader a glimpse without weighing down the story. "Dad tells me about the war, but only sometimes. He and his brother fought side by side. One day, his brother didn't come home."

Thi Bui's evocative illustrations have a look a bit like graphic novel art. The body language of the dad and boy clearly conveys the affection they share, and Bui's midnight blue night scenes evoke the early hour. She also finds ways to show us that the neighborhood is diverse -- there's a sign in Spanish for a restaurant -- and also that it's somewhat gritty -- they pass a homeless man with his belongings piled high in a shopping cart. This tale is so artfully rendered in text and art, readers will be very glad they came along on this intimate family fishing trip.

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