cover image Adrift at Sea: A Vietnamese Boy’s Story of Survival

Adrift at Sea: A Vietnamese Boy’s Story of Survival

Marsha Forchuk Skrypuch, with Tuan Ho, illus. by Brian Deines. Pajama (IPS, dist.), $18.95 (40p) ISBN 978-1-77278-005-5

As she did in The Last Airlift and One Step at a Time, Skrypuch uses one child’s story to give moving insight into the experience of the many children who escaped war-ravaged Vietnam to start new lives. One night in 1981, a year after six-year-old Tuan Ho’s father and older sister fled to Canada, the boy’s mother leads him and two younger sisters to a waiting skiff, as soldiers’ bullets fly past their heads. Danger follows them when they board a larger boat with scores of other refugees: the vessel springs a leak, water is scarce, the sun scorches, and the engine dies. In a particularly dramatic spread, the hulking bow of an approaching American aircraft carrier towers over the water, heralding their rescue. Deines’s (Elephant Journey) hazy oil paintings poignantly capture the family’s physical ordeal and anguish during their perilous journey. Information about the reasons for the family’s flight is conspicuously absent from the main narrative, but back matter fills in details about the Vietnam War and Ho’s family’s escape. Ages 6–9. (Nov.)