STARRED REVIEW
August 01, 2017

Making a new home

By Bao Phi, illustrated by Thi Bui

Sharing a few words and a sandwich, a boy and his father travel through the quiet tranquility of a city before dawn. In those serene moments they share complex, sometimes painful truths. Solemn and truthful, A Different Pond gives us one day through which to view the life of a refugee family working to thrive in a new country.

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Sharing a few words and a sandwich, a boy and his father travel through the quiet tranquility of a city before dawn. In those serene moments they share complex, sometimes painful truths. Solemn and truthful, A Different Pond gives us one day through which to view the life of a refugee family working to thrive in a new country.

On an artistic level, A Different Pond is a collaborative success. Based on his own childhood experience, author Bao Phi narrates as a child would, with straightforward language, enhanced with moments of poetic description. Phi, who was born in Vietnam and raised in the United States, gives us insight into traditions carried, transplanted and not always fitting easily into a new world and life. Graphic artist Thi Bui, who was born in Vietnam and immigrated as a child, tells a compelling story in the faces of her characters. Bui’s renderings are colorful but low-key, giving a sense of calm, of well-worn habits, of family sharing. The toned-down colors lend a slightly ethereal sense to those moments where both noisy city and stressful life seem tucked away. Car rust and a homeless man’s shopping cart lend authenticity and keep us grounded.

Lightly touching on experiences in Vietnam, as well as the many difficulties faced by refugees, Bui and Phi’s book would fit perfectly into school units on multiculturalism and the refugee experience. We all have stories of difficulty and obstacles; A Different Pond is a profound reminder of what we do every day to lift our families up and how we tell—and cherish—those stories.

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A Different Pond

A Different Pond

By Bao Phi, illustrated by Thi Bui
Capstone
ISBN 9781623708030

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