Friday, May 11, 2018

PPBF: Adrift At Sea

And now on to today's Perfect Picture Book Friday pick*

The true story of Tuan Ho,
told by Marsha Forchuk Skrypuch and Brian Deines
Adrift At Sea
A Vietnamese Boy's Story of Survival

Written Marsha Forchuk Skrypuch and Tuan Ho
Illustrated by Brian Deines, bio

Pajama Press, 2017
Ages 6-9, 40 pp

Immigrants, Cultural Diversity, Vietnam

When I come home from school today, a jug of water and bags of dried food sit by the door.
Ma gathers me in her arms. "Are you leaving me now too?" I ask.

The Ho family live in Vietnam in the 1980's. This is the story of how Tuan and his sisters made a daring escape from that country, were lost at sea, and survived. The book includes photographs and details to inform the reader about Tuan Ho's family members, making the journey very personal. The author's note gives facts about the Vietnam War and the subsequent struggles of refugees.

What I Love:
This book is a beautifully written account of a harsh emigration from a young boy's perspective. The author includes sensory details to heighten the experience. The fine art paintings are beautiful, evoking a strong sense of realism.

I did think the book needed a bit more context for young readers. The enormous cast introduced in the first few pages was also a bit confusing. The solid back matter could be used by adults to provide a framework and summary before reading the story to children. There were places where I wished the art was more illustrative. I think the artist could have used some spreads to heighten the tension, reinforcing what was unsaid in the text. Yet the art was breathtaking, definitely creating a sense of mood on every spread.

Overall, this book is a much needed and honest picture of something many immigrants experience. Despite its shortcomings, I recommend Adrift at Sea for use in homes and classrooms.

Culture map from Kids Press Magazine
1. Try kid-friendly recipes for fried rice, noodles, or summer rolls from A Week in the Life of the World.

2. Duolingo is my favorite app for learning languages. Try a few minutes of Vietnamese for free, and you'll be hooked.

3. Fluent in Three Months adds language games to get your kids moving and articulate.

4. Print and color Vietnamese paper dolls from

5. In case you missed the other CYBILS Award finalist reviews, I've included the links below:
Hatching Chicks in Room 6
Once Upon A Jungle
Shark Lady
Dazzle Ships
What Makes A Monster?

6. Check out these and more Perfect Picture Books at your local library.

A Different Pond, family life
of Vietnamese immigrants
Vietnamese Children's Favorite Stories,
Folk Tales

The Little Refugee,
Vietnamese Emigration
Maya Lin, Vietnamese architect
When Jesse Came Across the Sea,
Jewish immigrant story
The Wall, German escape story
Light in the Darkness,
African Escape story
The Name Jar,
Korean-American story

Have you reviewed a Perfect Picture Book along this theme? Please leave the link in the comments below. Thanks!

Check out all the recommended titles for Perfect Picture Book Friday
for Friday, May 11, 2018 available on Susanna Leonard Hill's blog.

*As a CYBILS second round judge, I received a review copy of this book in exchange for my honest opinion.


  1. I love the themed books you've posted. I just read A DIFFERENT POND and thoroughly loved it. I'm going to link to this post when I blog about the book. Thanks!

    1. Thanks so much! Stop back and leave a link to your review in the comments if you'd like.

  2. The opening lines from this book absolutely have me hooked. I think it would be impossible for anyone to read the first page and not want to keep reading. Guess which book has just climbed to the top of my wish list? Thanks for another wonderful book review.

    1. Sorry to crowd your TBR pile, but I think this book deserves championing. Thanks!

  3. Joanne, I have to take a look at this one. Books that expose kids to other cultures are so needed. I like number of the other books you've highlighted as well.

    1. Thank-you. There were so many interesting choices, I had a hard time culling it down.

  4. Two of my daughter's new roommates are from Vietnam - makes me want to learn more; thanks for posting!

    1. That will be a great opportunity for her and for them. Thanks for your support.

  5. I love to find immigration books for younger children. This one sounds powerful, since it is based on a true story. Will definitely check it out. Enjoyed your review.

    1. I don't think we can ever tell enough immigrant stories, at least not in America. Thanks!

  6. I love immigration books or books on different cultures so you have me hooked before I've opened it. Thanks for sharing and the other titles you have shared.

    1. One can never have too many book recommendations. Thanks!

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