cover image Simone


Viet Thanh Nguyen, illus. by Minnie Phan. Minerva, $18.99 (48p) ISBN 978-1-6626-5119-9

Rooted, per a contextualizing end note, in the 2020 California wildfires, this evocative split narrative juxtaposes intergenerational experiences of evacuation. Awakened from a deep sleep by Má as bright fire rages outside, young Simone grabs a go bag and a favorite toy. The family’s route takes them past firefighters in yellow as well as orange-clad prisoners from the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, all heading “right into the fire.” In the car, Má recalls her own childhood evacuation from a flooded Viet Nam: “I was only a little girl back then.... All I could bring was my crayons.” Inside a school gym turned shelter, Simone devises a drawing project for all the children that speaks to their individual and collective backgrounds. Artfully weaving flashbacks and recent events, Phan’s inventive illustrations intersperse b&w images with spot color that gradually introduces a full rainbow spectrum of experience. Supporting characters are portrayed with various skin tones. Ages 4–8. (May)