My Footprints

by Bao Phi (Author) Basia Tran (Illustrator)

Reading Level: 2nd − 3rd Grade

Every child feels different in some way, but Thuy feels double different. She is Vietnamese American and she has two moms. Thuy walks home one winter afternoon, angry and lonely after a bully's taunts. Then a bird catches her attention and sets Thuy on an imaginary exploration. What if she could fly away like a bird?

What if she could sprint like a deer, or roar like a bear? Mimicking the footprints of each creature in the snow, she makes her way home to the arms of her moms. Together, the three of them imagine beautiful and powerful creatures who always have courage - just like Thuy.

Kirkus Reviews

Even though Thuy’s repetition of the titular phrase stilts the story’s rhythm at times, this doesn’t overshadow the underlying message: It’s good to open up to the people who love you. Both a meaningful effort toward inclusion and a solid conversation starter about bullying. (Picture book. 5-9)

Copyright 2019 Kirkus Reviews, LLC Used with permission.


As in his Caldecott Honor Book A Different Pond (2017), Phi deeply understands both differences and family bonds. Tran's soft, rounded artwork adds an unexpected flavor to a story that goes deep into the power of imagination and empathy.

Copyright 2019 Booklist, LLC Used with permission.

School Library Journal

Starred Review

Gr 1-3--The story opens with a young Vietnamese-American girl named Thuy being laughed at again by two kids as she's leaving school alone on a winter day. It's clear in Thuy's expressions how upsetting the bullies' taunts are. Walking through the crunchy snow, she looks behind her and notices her footprints. Thuy continues on her way home "dipping the tips of her boots deep into the snow..., wanting to feel peaceful, quiet, left alone." She reaches home to find her moms outside shoveling snow. When Thuy doesn't want to talk about her day she storms off, making tracks in the snow like a snake. Thuy works through her emotions of anger and sadness by mimicking different animals' footprints in the snow--a spotted leopard "that can blend into its surroundings and disappear if it's threatened," then a grizzly bear--"strong and brave, a bear stands up for itself. Other animals are afraid to make fun of it." When Momma Arti and Momma Ngoc join Thuy in the backyard she asks them what the strongest animal is. When Momma Arti suggest an elephant, Thuy declares: "I want to be the biggest and strongest and scariest that if kids at school make fun of me for having two moms, or tell me to go back to where I come from, or call me names. Or bother me because I'm a girl, I can make them stop." There it is. So begins a game with the three making footprints of their favorite animals Thuy makes up her own creature--"one that never hurts or makes fun of anyone"--an "Arti-Thuy-Ngoc-osaurus!" The story ends with the three holding hands, chanting "our footprints", making heart shapes in the snow. Back matter includes a deeply personal author's note mentioning his own history of being bullied. Basia Tran's illustrations are pitch perfect and make the story all the more poignant. VERDICT A timeless and important book that deals with the fallout of bullying and the power of a child's imagination to overcome with the strength and support of a loving family.--Megan Kilgallen, Packer Collegiate Institute, Brooklyn

Copyright 2019 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.
Lexile Measure
Guided Reading Level
Publication date
September 20, 2019
School Library Journal starred, 09/01/19

Subscribe to our delicious e-newsletter!