Bulletin for the Center for Children's Books
[The] biographical approach helps to humanize a war that, for most readers, may seem like ancient history, and the tight focus on the airlift and Tuyet's first days with the Morrises reminds readers that they are sharing the experiences of an agemate.
Cooperative Center for Children's Books Choices
Marsha Forchuk Skrypuch never strays from Tuyet's child-centered perspective in recounting her experiences. In an author's note, Skrypuch describes interviewing Tuyet (obviously now an adult), who found that she remembered more and more of the past as she talked. Dialogue takes this narrative out of the category of pure nonfiction, but Tuyet's story, with its occasional black-and-white illustrations, is no less affecting because of it.
Smithsonian Institute Book Dragon
Enhanced with documents and a surprising number of photographs, Airlift is a touching, multi-layered experience. The strength of Skrypuch's storytelling shows strongest in the smallest details.
Winnipeg Free Press
"Skrypuch, tells the true story of how this little girl is transported to Toronto and finds a loving home. She makes us feel Tuyet's fears, confusion and loneliness as she adjusts to her new home."
Last Airlift is the story of an heroic deed, of one young girl's courage and resourcefulness when she most needs it, and of the ending she could not foresee . . . **Highly Recommended.**
"Skrypuch's prose is intimate and compelling, the many personal touches make the story come alive... Both dialogue and many wonderful photographs enliven the story. Young readers will find Last Airlift suspenseful and interesting. It will take them to a time and place they may not have heard of, but which will resonate for them through Tuyet's longing for a family to call her own."
"Skrypuch's gift is her ability to tell stories of under-privileged children in faraway lands. Tuyet's biography demonstrates her talent...Tuyet's story is an excellent example of the biography genre for young student; a multi-cultural perspective on being an immigrant child in Canada, and also a snapshot of a child's life during the war. This biography is a useful source for discovering the ethnic makeup of a local community and the background of an immigrant Canadian. Highly recommended."
Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Program blog
"Enhanced with documents and a surprising number of photographs, Airlift is a touching, multi-layered experience. The strength of Skrypuch's storytelling shows strongest in the smallest details."
The Westfield Booktalker blog
"This short narrative reads like a well-written novel, but it's the true story of Tuyet Son Thi Anh, a young girl who endured polio and war, and who was flown out of Saigon in 1975 by Americans, at the end of the Vietnam War...Her memories, as told to the author, are fascinating and poignant...Highly recommended!"
Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books
"This biographical approach helps to humanize a war that, for most readers, may seem like ancient history, and the tight focus on the airlift and Tuyet's first days with the Morrises reminds readers that they are sharing the experiences of an agemate."
Tuyet's remarkable true story recounts the heroic rescue on a plane bigger than her orphanage, with babies hurriedly placed in cardboard boxes and an unknown future for all. With the new foods, her own bed, eating with a fork, using a toothbrush (instead of her fingers and some salt), walking on grass (instead of rice paddies), and learning that the lights in the nighttime sky are stars instead of bombs, it's her adjustment to a foreign land and an adopted family that proves most fascinating.
Horn Book Magazine
An excellent first step on the ladder that leads to such fine immigrant tales as Thanhha Lai's Inside Out & Back Again.
Cooperative Children's Book Center Choices
"Dialogue takes this narrative out of the category of pure nonfiction, but Tuyet's story, with its occasional black-and-white illustrations, is no less affecting because of it."
The Bulletin for the Center for Children's Books
This biographical approach helps to humanize a war that, for most readers, may seem like ancient history, and the tight focus on the airlift and Tuyet's first days with the Morrises reminds readers that they are sharing the experiences of an agemate.
Children's Literature - Kris Sauer
Tuyet, a Vietnamese orphan, had grown used to the sounds of helicopters, gunfire and explosions outside her Saigon orphanage. She had a little to eat, basic clothes on her back, and a school to attend, even if she never did get to see the sky. With one leg crippled by polio, Tuyet was one of the oldest of the orphans at age eight. But her simple life changed on April 11, 1975. That morning a van screeched to a halt just inside the gates of Tuyet's orphanage. Babies, toddlers and Tuyet were given plastic wrist straps and hustled into the van. After a harrowing ride through a city under siege, Tuyet and her fellow orphans made it to an airstrip. Here, Tuyet was among the 57 children saved in the last airlift from Saigon, a rescue operation sponsored by the Canadian government. Aimed at readers in grades three to seven, this amazing true story is an engaging read. Written in the third person, but from the perspective of a scared eight-year-old, readers will get a firsthand account of what it is like to be a frightened refugee in a new, foreign land. Photographs, most of them well-placed, are scattered throughout the text to enhance the story. If there is criticism, it is that the backstory is not well told. Young readers unfamiliar with the Vietnam War or the plight of the resulting refugees and orphans will likely be confused as to why Tuyet's life was unfolding as it was. A historical note at the end of the text helps clarify the historical background. Tuyet's story ends well, with adoption by a loving family and an update on her current, happily married life. A well-written, engaging story, this book would enhance a Vietnam War, orphans or refugee-centered curriculum. Reviewer: Kris Sauer
School Library Journal
Gr 3–6—Tuyet had little memory of her life before going to the orphanage where, at eight, she was one of the oldest children. She ate fish and rice, drank water, and could not remember ever seeing the sky. Her scars were from burns and injuries she could not remember, and polio left her leg weak. In April 1975, Tuyet's life changed forever as she became part of the last Canadian airlift operation to leave Saigon. Along with 56 babies and toddlers, Tuyet was flown first to Hong Kong and then to Canada where she was adopted by a loving family, something she had never known. The author tells Tuyet's story with respect and dignity, introducing readers to a brave girl caught up in the turbulent times of her country, her fears of leaving what she knew, and the joy of finding a new life. Archival and family photos are included throughout, as are a historical note explaining the circumstances surrounding the airlift and an author's note with follow-up information about Tuyet. Her story will appeal to a broad range of readers.—Denise Moore, O'Gorman Junior High School, Sioux Falls, SD
As Saigon was falling to the North Vietnamese in April 1975, those who were caring for babies and children orphaned by the war worried about the fate of their charges. A series of evacuation flights called "Operation Babylift" carried several thousand young children to other countries around the world. Skrypuch (Daughter of War, 2008) tells the story of the last Canadian airlift through the memories of one child, Son Thi Anh Tuyet. Nearly 8 years old, the sad-eyed girl on the cover had lived nearly all her life in a Catholic orphanage. With no warning, she and a number of the institution babies were taken away, placed on an airplane and flown to a new world. Tuyet's memories provide poignant, specific details. The nuns expected her to be useful; she helped with the babies. Naturally, she assumed that John and Dorothy Morris had chosen her to help with their three children; instead, she had acquired a family. In an afterword, the author describes her research, including personal interviews and newspaper accounts from the time. But Tuyet's experience is her focus. It personalizes the babylift without sensationalizing it. The author has researched carefully and reported accurately, except where South Vietnam's soldiers are called Viet Cong. Immediate and compelling, this moving refugee story deserves a wide audience. (historical note, resources, index) (Nonfiction. 10-15)
Read an Excerpt
A true story about life in a Saigon orphanage, a dramatic rescue flight from Vietnam to Canada, adoption by a Canadian family, and growing up in Canada.