My First Day

by Phung Nguyen Quang (Author)

Reading Level: 2nd − 3rd Grade

A visually stunning story of resilience and determination by an award-winning new author-illustrator team.

This is no ordinary first journey. The rainy season has come to the Mekong Delta, and An, a young Vietnamese boy, sets out alone in a wooden boat wearing a little backpack and armed only with a single oar. On the way, he is confronted by giant crested waves, heavy rainfall and eerie forests where fear takes hold of him. Although daunted by the dark unknown, An realizes that he is not alone and continues to paddle. He knows it will all be worth it when he reaches his destination--one familiar to children all over the world.

Kirkus Reviews

Starred Review
Enthralling, uplifting: a celebration of everyday heroes' journeys in the quest for education and learning.

Publishers Weekly

Starred Review

A Vietnamese boy's journey starts when he steps from his house into a wooden boat. Equipped with a knapsack and a long pole, he sets out across the Mekong River Delta during flood season, when boats are the only possible transportation. "This is the first time I've made this trip on my own," he confides. Polished, animation-style spreads by Quang and Liên dazzle as the boy surmounts huge waves, bails his boat out with a large leaf, and poles his way through a dark, forbidding mangrove forest: "The jungle calls your name, asks you to be brave." The huge python readers see swimming underneath the boy's boat might be real, or not. Flocks of birds fly across sunrise clouds above him; fish school beneath the boat. At last he spies the shore. Quang and Liên celebrate the beauty and wealth of the Mekong River, whose floods lead to a gentle transformation of riverside life from a land-based to a water-based existence for a significant portion of the year. Back matter supplies more information about the delta and its characteristics. Ages 4-8. (Feb.)

Copyright 2020 Publishers Weekly, LLC Used with permission.

School Library Journal

Starred Review

K-Gr 3--A Vietnamese boy sets out on a journey in his little wooden boat on "the great river, Mother Mekong." This is his first time making this trip alone, and he leads us through open waves, mangrove trees, the darkness of the unknown, bright open skies, schools of fish, and water buffalo until he reaches his destination: school, on his very first day. Quang and Lien take readers through a visually breathtaking expedition filled with highs and lows. The phenomenal artwork enhances the poetic language of this young boy's trip and lets readers follow along, experiencing his fears, hopes, and joy. The story also provides an informative look at life along the Mekong River during "floating season," from the mangrove forests to the animals that he encounters on his trip. The digitized pen-and-ink illustrations are presented in wide, panoramic scenes, enhancing the majestic, almost cinematic quality of the images. Back matter includes further information from the author/illustrator duo, facts about the Mekong River, and a simple map. VERDICT Highly recommended for all collections.--Kristyn Dorfman, The Nightingale-Bamford Sch., New York City

Copyright 2021 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

Review quotes

A particularly propulsive, cinematic story. —BookPage, starred review 

A lively journey that's interesting in its own right... —The Bulletin, starred review 

Phung Nguyen Quang
Phung Nguyen Quang and Huynh Kim Lien are book creators who live and work together in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. Quang and Lien are currently working on illustrations for a number of children's titles to be published in Vietnam and Europe.
Lexile Measure
Guided Reading Level
Publication date
February 20, 2021
Texas 2x2 Reading List
Selection 2022
ALSC Notable Children's Book
Selection 2022

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