Vietnamese children’s book features in New York Times, Wall Street Journal

By Dang Khoa   September 9, 2021 | 04:49 pm PT
Vietnamese children’s book features in New York Times, Wall Street Journal
Book cover of 'My First Day'. Photo courtesy of KAA's Facebook
The New York Times and Wall Street Journal both recommend 'My First Day' as one of the picture books to purchase for the new school year.

'Hanh Trinh Dau Tien' (My First Day) is written and illustrated by KAA, the pen name of Saigon-based author-illustrator pair Phung Nguyen Quang and Huynh Kim Lien.

It tells the story of how a young boy named An from the Mekong Delta region makes his first trip to school by himself during the rainy season.

"This is the first time I’ve made this trip on my own, weaving through floodwaters and forests," the boy said.

In the book, An is confronted by many obstacles, from giant crested waves, heavy rainfall and eerie forests where fear takes hold of him. As he paddles down past obstacles such as snakes and crocodiles, the jungle "calls your name, asks you to be brave."

Wall Street Journal wrote the book has "lush and sweeping illustrations" and is a sumptuous picture book affirming that "however children may get to class, jitters on the first day are universal."

Meanwhile, New York Times said the words and images show "how tiny humans are in relation to nature, and how much some will risk to get an education."

The two Vietnamese artists created the book in 2014 to participate in the "Scholastic Picture Book Award" competition in Singapore, where it surpassed hundreds of other stories sent back from all over Asia to win the top prize.

The book was published in Vietnamese in 2018. The English version of the book was released by American published Penguin Random House in February.

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