My First Book of Vietnamese Words: An ABC Rhyming Book of Vietnamese Language and Culture

Tran Thi Minh Phuoc, illus. by Nguyen Thi Hop and Nguyen Dong. Tuttle, $10.95 (32p) ISBN 978-0-8048-4907-4
Readers gain a useful introduction to the Vietnamese language, alphabet, and culture in this companion to similar books on Indonesian, Chinese, Korean, and other Asian languages. An opening note details the differences between the Vietnamese and English alphabets, as well as how diacritical marks affect the pronunciation of vowels. Although the Vietnamese alphabet has 29 letters and doesn’t include f, j, w, and z, Tran uses the familiar 26 English letters as she moves through the alphabet; the rhythms of the verse can be somewhat rocky (“I is for Ít./ Filled with coconut and mung bean/ is a rice flour ball/ in a banana leaf so green”), and the Nguyens’ scenes of Vietnamese life are somewhat stiff and posed. But supplemental cultural details, included in brief asides, add valuable context to a book with few competitors on bookstore shelves. Ages 3–8. (Aug.)
Reviewed on: 07/24/2017
Release date: 08/01/2017
Genre: Children's
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