Saturday, October 8, 2016

Adrift at Sea: A Vietnamese Boy's Story of Survival by Marsha Forchuk Skrypuch (Kid Konnection)

This is the first picture book of its kind that recounts the true story of one family's brave and perilous journey toward a new life in North America.

Book Details:

Adrift at Sea: A Vietnamese Boy's Story of Survival by Marsha Forchuk Skrypuch with Tuan Ho
ISBN: 9781772780055
Published: November 2016
Published by: PajamaPress
Hardcover: 40 pages
Content Rating: G

Book Description:

It is 1981. In the middle of the Pacific Ocean, a fishing boat overloaded with 60 Vietnamese refugees drifts. The motor has failed; the hull is leaking; the drinking water is nearly gone. This is the dramatic true story recounted by Tuan Ho, who was six years old when he, his mother, and two sisters dodged the bullets of Vietnam s military police for the perilous chance of boarding that boat. Told to multi-award-winning author Marsha Forchuk Skrypuch and illustrated by the celebrated Brian Deines, Tuan s story has become Adrift At Sea, the first picture book to describe the flight of Vietnam s Boat People refugees. Illustrated with sweeping oil paintings and complete with an expansive historical and biographical section with photographs, this non-fiction picture book is all the more important as the world responds to a new generation of refugees risking all on the open water for the chance at safety and a new life.

Our Review:
Reviewed by Laura Fabiani and Son

I love immigrant stories probably because I grew up in an immigrant family. Adrift At Sea is about Tuan Ho's escape from Vietnam when he was a boy of six. The story is told through the eyes of Tuan and we feel for him as he experiences fear, a family torn apart and days adrift at sea with little drinking water. The story has a positive ending, of course, but it brings to life what thousands of Vietnamese people went through in the early 1980s when they tried to escape.

My 12 year-old son read this story too and felt saddened by Tuan harrowing escape. He picked up on the fact that another boat caught fire and those in it did not escape. This opened up a great discussion on world events and how in some countries people are still trying to escape by boat. I think that it's important to teach our young ones about what children in other countries go through. These are the stories of our country's immigrants.

The illustrations are simply beautiful and the style perfect for this dramatic story. The last illustration in particular when the American soldier gives Tuan a glass of milk is a perfect way to end this nonfiction book. I also enjoyed the photographs of Tuan and his family when they were young in Vietnam to those of him today as a man with his wife and children. More factual information is accompanied with these photos.

I highly recommend this book as a teaching tool and feel that it should be in every library. It's books like this that will make history come alive for our next generation of children.

My Review:
Reviewed by Sandra Olshaski

I was deeply touched by this beautiful true story of a family's survival in the face of overwhelming odds as they leave Vietnam in search of a new life in the West. Sixty Vietnamese refugees, among whom is six-year-old Tuan Ho and his family, endure days at sea as the motor of the fishing boat fails, the hull is leaking, drinking water is depleted, and the merciless sun beats down upon them, They are finally rescued by an American aircraft carrier and eventually reach Canada.

I loved the "before" and "after" pictures as well as the brief historical overview of events relating to the war in Vietnam. It seems so long ago that our hearts were being gripped by the ordeals of the so-called Vietnamese "boat people." This book makes it very current in view of the new generation of refugees on the world scene.

The soft-focus artwork done by Brian Deines that illustrates each page is amazing. A shout-out to him! The author has produced a very readable book that both parents and children should read together.

I highly recommend this beautiful book.

Disclosure: Thanks to Laura Bowman from Pajama Press for sending us this book for review. We were not compensated in any other way, nor told how to rate or review it.

About the author

Marsha Forchuk Skrypuch is the multi-award winning author of Dance of the Banished, which won the Geoffrey Bilson Award for Historical Fiction for Young People, and was a Junior Library Guild Selection. Among her many other titles for children and young people is Last Airlift: A Vietnamese Orphan's Rescue from War, which won the Red Cedar Information Book Award and was a Cooperative Children's Book Center best-of-the-year Choice and a Bank Street Best Book. Marsha lives in Brantford, Ontario.

Every Saturday, Booking Mama hosts a feature called Kid Konnection—a regular weekend feature about anything related to children's books. If you'd like to participate in Kid Konnection and share a post about anything related to children's books (picture, middle grade, or young adult) from the past week, visit Booking Mama.

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  1. Seems like a great book for kids, what ages do you think this will work for?

    1. Hi Eleni, thanks for visiting my blog! I think because of the subject matter I would suggest 7+ but the publisher has it at 6+. I guess it depends on the sensitivity of your child.

  2. Wow! This would make for a great read-a-loud in the classroom! I love these types of stories as an adult and would love to read this one too.

    1. Yes, you're right, Stacie. This would make a great read-aloud in the classroom.

  3. I love immigrant stories too. This one sounds exceptional.


Thank you for commenting! I appreciate your feedback.

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