Mali Under the Night Sky: A Lao Story of Home

Youme Landowne, Cinco Puntos (Consortium, dist.), $17.95 (40p) ISBN 978-1-933693-68-2
A Laotian girl's life takes a cruel turn in this haunting yet hopeful tale based on the childhood of Laotian-American artist Malichansouk Kouanchao. Sunny watercolors with patterned borders illuminate the simple joys of Mali's early life, when the world was "full of wonderful things." She climbs trees, helps prepare feasts, and participates in the tradition of tying strings around the wrists of family and friends, "a way of showing that their hearts would always be together." The palette darkens as change—described only vaguely—comes to Laos ("Fighting in neighboring countries was bringing danger to the land and the people"). Young readers may not understand why Mali's family is arrested "for not having a home" and placed in a crowded jail with other refugees after they flee to a neighboring country (afterwords from Kouanchao and a Laotian writer/filmmaker provide more context). There, the strings circling her wrist inspire Mali to share memories of her homeland to lift the spirits of fellow prisoners. Landowne (Sélavi: A Haitian Story of Hope) smoothly includes several Laotian words and phrases in this deeply felt and gently told story. Ages 5–10. (Nov.)
Reviewed on: 11/22/2010
Release date: 10/01/2010
Genre: Children's
Ebook - 40 pages - 978-1-935955-19-1
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