The Yellow Áo Dài

by Hanh Bui (Author) Minnie Phan (Illustrator)

The Yellow Áo Dài
Reading Level: 2nd − 3rd Grade

Lovingly illustrated by Minnie Phan, Hanh Bui's debut picture book, The Yellow Áo Dài, is a warm story of family, identity, and remembering those who came before.

Naliah is excited to perform a traditional Vietnamese Fan Dance at her school's International Day. When she finds that her special áo dài no longer fits right, she goes to her mom's closet to find another.

She puts on a pretty yellow one--only to accidentally rip it while practicing her dance. She's horrified to discover that this was a very special áo dài that her grandmother had worn to dance at the Mid-Autumn Festival in Vietnam.

But with a little help from her mom's sewing kit and her grandmother's loving legacy, Naliah learns not only how to mend the yellow áo dài but also how to believe in herself and make it her own.

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School Library Journal

K-Gr 3--Naliah, a little girl of Vietnamese heritage, is excited for her school's international festival, and eager to share a traditional Vietnamese Fan Dance with her classmates; she is dismayed to discover, though, that she has outgrown her special áo dài, and her mother's is so large that she trips on it and rips it during practice. Naliah is afraid she is in trouble, but instead her mother sews a patch over the rip and tells her the áo dài's legacy as being one her grandmother wore. Bui's debut picture book is inspired by her daughter and mother-in-law. Her hope in an author's note is that "all children recognize that their family stories matter and see themselves between the pages of the books they read." Vietnamese culture is beautifully honored through Phan's expressive, cheerful watercolors. Naliah's joy and fear are clear on her face and the áo dàis are rich with details. A glossary is included at the end defining some of the words and cultural celebrations. VERDICT Naliah's story teaches readers about the importance of family and culture in forming identity. Purchase where books on identity and culture circulate well; this would pair especially well with Eva Chen's I Am Golden, Joanna Ho's Eyes that Kiss in the Corners and Nabela Noor's Beautifully Me.--Heidi Dechief

Copyright 2023 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

Review quotes

Praise for The Yellow Áo Dài:

"This simple, lyrical, touching story took me to a place that I did not know but to emotions that belong to us all. I will not forget it and its lesson of confession, forgiveness, and love." —Jane Yolen, award-winning author of Owl Moon and over 400 other books for children

"A truly heartwarming story of mother and daughter, generations and traditions, and ultimately forgiveness and unconditional love that will make you want to share this wonderful book with someone you love. " —Mary Rand Hess, New York Times bestselling author

"Heartwarming ... Lovely illustrations, using subtle colors and graceful lines to define the characters and express Naliah's shifting emotions, concluding with joy and contentment. A picture book celebrating immigrants and their families' cultures." —Booklist

"Vietnamese -culture is beautifully honored through Phan's expressive, cheerful -watercolors. -... Naliah's story teaches readers about the importance of family and culture in forming identity. ... Would pair especially well with Eva Chen's I Am Golden, Joanna Ho's Eyes that Kiss in the Corners and -Nabela Noor's Beautifully Me." —School Library Journal

"Bui weaves a tender tale of a family honoring memories and heirlooms but also creating new traditions. Phan's buoyant and beautiful illustrations convey the protagonist's emotions. ... A charming contemporary celebration of family and heritage." —Kirkus Reviews

Hanh Bui

Inspired by her first teacher at the refugee camp, Hanh Bui pursued a master's degree in Early Childhood Education and taught second grade before becoming a full-time mother to three children. She also served as a Development Officer for Senhoa Foundation in support of women and children who survived human trafficking in Cambodia, and has served on boards supporting children and parents in building community. Hanh serves as co-chair of the Equity and Inclusion Team for the Mid-Atlantic region of SCBWI, and has been featured in Highlights For Children magazine, Next Avenue and Forbes. She is the author of The Yellow Áo Dài and Ánh's New Word.

Bao Luu dreamed of becoming an artist as a child, and today his work as an illustrator focuses on bright, playful colors and unique textures. He is the illustrator of Simple Thanks written by Deborah Wiles and Ánh's New Word written by Hanh Bui. He was born and raised in Vietnam and currently lives near Houston, Texas.

Lexile Measure
Guided Reading Level
Feiwel & Friends
Publication date
April 20, 2023
BISAC categories
JUV013030 - Juvenile Fiction | Family | Multigenerational
JUV048000 - Juvenile Fiction | Clothing & Dress
JUV011020 - Juvenile Fiction | People & Places | United States - Asian American
Library of Congress categories
Vietnamese Americans

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