A Different Pond

by Bao Phi (Author) Thi Bui (Illustrator)

Reading Level: 2nd − 3rd Grade

A 2018 Caldecott Honor Book that Kirkus Reviews calls a must-read for our times, A Different Pond is an unforgettable story about a simple event - a long-ago fishing trip.

Graphic novelist Thi Bui and acclaimed poet Bao Phi deliver a powerful, honest glimpse into a relationship between father and son - and between cultures, old and new.

As a young boy, Bao and his father 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.

Thi Bui's striking, evocative art paired with Phi's expertly crafted prose has earned this powerful picture books six starred reviews and numerous awards.


Kirkus Reviews

Starred Review
Together, Phi’s gentle, melodic prose and Bui’s evocative art, presented in brushy and vividly colored panels and double-page spreads, rise above the melancholy to tell a powerful, multilayered story about family, memory, and the costs of becoming a refugee.

Booklist

Starred Review
Phi's bittersweet story of the resourcefulness of an immigrant family is lovingly illustrated in Bui's evocative artwork . . . This wistful, beautifully illustrated story will resonate not only with immigrant families but any family that has faced struggle.

Publishers Weekly

Starred Review

Phi, a poet whose parents were Vietnamese refugees, draws from childhood memories in this story about fishing with his father before sunrise on the lakes of Minneapolis. They didn't do it for fun; it was a way to put food on the table. "Everything in America costs a lot of money," his father tells him. Sometimes, they run into fishermen from other marginalized communities: a Hmong man "speaks English like my dad and likes to talk about funny movies," and a black man "shows me his colorful lure collection." Though the morning is an adventure for the boy, it's the start of a long day for his father, who heads to work afterward (as does the boy's mother). Bui (The Best We Could Do) uses confident ink lines and watery washes of deep blue to evoke the predawn setting and tender familial relationship. Graphic novel panels and strong figures give the pages the air of a documentary as Phi celebrates an unexpected superhero: a father who endures a strange new culture, works to support his family, cherishes time with his son, and draws no attention to the sacrifices he's made. Ages 6-8. (Aug.)

Copyright 2017 Publishers Weekly, LLC Used with permission.

School Library Journal

Starred Review

K-Gr 2--This gorgeous tale about a father/son fishing trip shows the interconnectedness of family and the inexorable way that generational history impacts the present. The story is told from the boy's perspective, as his father wakes him long before dawn to go fishing. Although the child enjoys the outing as a special adventure with his dad, they are fishing for food, not sport, and they must be home in time for the father to leave for work. The quiet time together provides opportunities for the man to talk about his past life fishing with his brother in a different pond in Vietnam, long ago before the war and before coming to America. After they return home, triumphant, with a bucket of fish, the boy contemplates his role as the youngest in the family--no longer a baby--and even though he is sad that both his parents have to work, he knows there will be a happy, love-filled family dinner later that night. Bui's cinematic illustrations make use of panels and weighted lines, evoking the perfect background or facial expression for each piece of text. The text placement and composition of the illustrations allow each occurrence or observation to be its own distinct event, stringing together the small, discrete moments that make up a life, a memory, and a history into a cohesive whole. VERDICT This gentle coming-of-age story is filled with loving, important aspects of the immigrant experience and is a first purchase for all libraries.--Anna Haase Krueger, Ramsey County Library, MN

Copyright 2017 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.
Classification
Non-fiction
ISBN-13
9781623708030
Lexile Measure
620L
Guided Reading Level
N/A
Publisher
Capstone Young Readers
Publication date
August 20, 2017
Series
-
BISAC categories
JNF053240 - Juvenile Nonfiction | Social Topics | Emigration & Immigration
Library of Congress categories
Vietnamese Americans
Immigrants
Fishing
Fathers and sons
Caldecott Medal
Honor Book 2018 - 2018

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