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This poignant and lyrical debut picture book based on the author’s own experience and illustrated by Caldecott Honoree Thi Bui follows young Mai and her mother’s perilous journey from Vietnam to America to find Papa—who left ahead of them to start a better life for their family.
No one can make Mai laugh like her Papa! She loves playing their favorite game—the crocodile chomp chomp! But then Papa leaves Vietnam in search of a new home for their family in America and Mai misses him very much.
Until one day, Mama and Mai pack a small bag and say goodbye to the only home Mai has ever known. And so begins Mai and Mama’s long, perilous journey by foot and by boat, through dangers and darkness, to find Papa.
Finding Papa reminds us that love and courage can stretch an ocean and that nothing can keep us apart from those we care about.
A JUNIOR LIBRARY GUILD GOLD STANDARD SELECTION!
Angela Pham Krans is a children's book author who enjoys writing anywhere with access to Cuban coffee or chocolate croissants. When Angela was finally reunited with her Papa, she did not recognize him with his bushy mustache. But Papa won her over with plenty of toys and treats! Angela lives in Atlanta with her husband and two rambunctious dogs. You can connect with her at www.angelakrans.com.
Thi Bui is a cartoonist, an educator, a mom, and a restless explorer. Best known for her bestselling graphic memoir, The Best We Could Do, she has also illustrated the children's books Chicken of the Sea and A Different Pond, for which she won a Caldecott Honor. You can find her work and interviews at www.thibui.com.
Reassuring despite depicting a dangerous journey and uncertain time; there are many children for whom this is not history, but family stories. Essential.
— School Library Journal (starred review)
Stunning illustrations and gentle text tell the story of a separated family’s heartrending and hopeful journey from Vietnam to the U.S. A beautifully moving collaboration of lyrical text and striking illustrations. — Booklist (starred review)
"Krans' prose gently helps young readers understand concepts such as missing loved ones and displacement. Repeated phrasing and recurring elements (crocodiles, mango trees, goodbyes) create a lyrical, compelling narrative and read-aloud. Bui's art, with its intimate portraits of family moments, is full of tenderness and expression. An affecting story of courage and hope in hardship." — Kirkus Reviews
Based on the author's real journey in 1983 from Vietnam to the U.S., the story brings another important voice to the recent influx of kid-authentic tellings of harrowing immigrant and refugee experiences such as Marwan's Where Butterflies Fill the Sky (BCCB 03/22), or Mayper's Night on the Sand (BCCB 07/22). Bui's illustrations stretch across the pages, with dappled textures and careful blending evocative of watercolor, while the compositions structure the story's pace. . . Add this to the aforementioned titles for an inclusive display on the various journeys people take to find safety and the hardships they often face. — Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books
Drawing from personal experiences emigrating from Vietnam to America, per creators’ notes, the author-illustrator team foregrounds one family’s journey in this sensitive picture book. . . Mixed-media illustrations from Bui (A Different Pond) focus on interpersonal tenderness and varied landscapes, evoking across somber events a young child’s joy and yearning, and a playful parent-child bond. — Publishers Weekly