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One Step at a Time : A Vietnamese Child Finds Her Way

Overview

Brought up in a Vietnamese orphanage and rescued from the invading North Vietnamese army, Tuyet has been adopted by a kind and loving family in Canada. But polio has left her with a weak leg, and her foot is turned inward, making walking painful and difficult. She must have a series of operations but dreads doctors and the hospital because they bring back troubling memories of helicopters, a field hospital and another operation in Vietnam. But now that she has been given a chance at a normal life, Tuyet is ...

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Overview

Brought up in a Vietnamese orphanage and rescued from the invading North Vietnamese army, Tuyet has been adopted by a kind and loving family in Canada. But polio has left her with a weak leg, and her foot is turned inward, making walking painful and difficult. She must have a series of operations but dreads doctors and the hospital because they bring back troubling memories of helicopters, a field hospital and another operation in Vietnam. But now that she has been given a chance at a normal life, Tuyet is determined to do what it takes to finally stand on her own two feet.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
In this true-life historical tale of overcoming adversity, Skrypuch continues the story of Tuyet, an eight-year-old Vietnam­ese refugee and polio survivor with a damaged leg, whose rescue she narrated in Last Airlift: A Vietnamese Orphan’s Rescue from War. Adopted by an unconditionally loving and supportive Canadian family, unable to understand or express much in English, Tuyet begins a difficult journey through surgeries and arduous physical therapy to repair her leg. Because her harrowing experiences in Vietnam are referenced only in her nightmares or fearful reactions to ordinary events, readers unfamiliar with the first book may need additional explanation to understand the history of the Vietnamese airlift and how Tuyet came to Canada (the lack of a preface or synopsis of Tuyet’s earlier experiences is problematic). Back matter includes information about polio and Canadian hospital procedures in the 1970s, as well as a resource list. While Tuyet’s quiet perseverance is inspiring, the book’s simple language and design, which includes b&w historical photos presented in unadorned fashion with the briefest of captions, give it a dated quality that may lessen its appeal for today’s readers. Ages 8–12. (Feb.)
Booklist
"Along with the true personal story, the facts about polio across the globe, past and present, will grip readers."
Resource Links
"A good choice for sensitive young readers interested in non-fiction about other children, other cultures, and recent history; it may be eye-opening for many readers...The book is likely to encourage many questions and wide-ranging discussion in a reading group, and the story is highly likeable."
Reading Today Online
"[A] heart-warming book that will leave readers in tears."
The Horn Book Magazine
Readers [who enjoyed Last Airlift] will be just as riveted to this quieter but no-less-moving story as Tuyet bravely dreams of being able to run and play . . .
ALA Booklist
Along with the true personal story, the facts about polio across the globe, past and present, will grip readers.
International Reading Association Reading Today Online
The cover of the book and the red shoes pictured take on a very special meaning by the end of this heart-warming book that will leave readers in tears.
Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center Booksdragon
Step by step, Skrypuch shows with forthright clarity how Tuyet becomes her own very best hero.
Winnipeg Free Press
Skrypuch . . . does a good job of portraying Tuyet's feelings as she faces the uncertainties of a new country, a new home and frightening surgery.
Good News Toronto
Readers 8 to 11 years old will marvel at Tuyet's perseverance and laugh at moments when she reveals her unfamiliarity with Canadian customs, such as when Tuyet doesn't understand why her first-ever birthday cake is 'on fire.'
Children's Literature - Paula McMillen
This nonfiction sequel to Last Airlift continues the story of Son Thi Anh Tuyet, a Vietnamese girl rescued from an orphanage as Saigon fell, and adopted by the Morris family in Canada. It is 1975, and Tuyet is now living a life she could never have imagined with three siblings, plenty of food, her own clothes, and loving parents. She only wishes she could do more than watch as other children play, but she is crippled by polio. When a Vietnamese speaking woman comes to the house, Tuyet fears she will be taken away from the Morris's, but learns instead that she is to have a surgery to straighten her twisted and shortened left leg. Due to visiting policies at the hospital and lack of interpreters, the process is often an incomprehensible and terrifying one for the little girl, but she bravely endures and eventually comes home in a cast, is fitted for a brace and a built up shoe, and can eventually walk on her own two feet. There are informational notes by the author on how polio effects people who contract it, the efforts to eradicate polio worldwide, and ways readers can help. The Morris family adopted three children from other countries including Tuyet. A table of contents, index, photos, and additional reading suggestions all add to the value of this book. This would be a wonderful addition to any classroom or school library. Reviewer: Paula McMillen, Ph.D.
School Library Journal
Gr 4–6—In this continuation of Last Airlift (Pajama Press, 2012), eight-year-old Tuyet is now adjusting to life with her Canadian adoptive family, the Morrises. She is uneasy about sleeping alone after years in a crowded orphanage and is troubled by recurring nightmares of the war. In addition to the trauma she has endured, Tuyet suffers from the painful effects of having had polio. One of the book's many touching scenes occurs when Mrs. Morris buys the child her first new footwear. She delights at the prospect of getting shiny red shoes, even though the left one could not be worn, due to her shrunken leg and twisted foot. Her mother does not give up until she finds a soft, red slipper that fits over Tuyet's left foot, making the pair complete. Skrypuch only describes Tuyet's first operation and subsequent therapy, and her first steps using a leg brace, an orthopedic shoe, and crutches. In her notes, she details five additional surgeries, ending with the operation that made the child's legs the same length. To capture accurate details more than three decades after these events happened, the author interviewed Tuyet's two adoptive sisters, her surgeon, and the hospital archivist as well as Tuyet herself. A historical note about the eradication of polio in North America and suggestions for ways to help make universal vaccination a reality are appended. The black-and-white cover photo of Tuyet's face looking apprehensive and earnest is of a better quality than the handful of rather grainy ones in the text. An inspiring story that will appeal to a wide audience.—Deborah Vose, Highlands Elementary School, Braintree, MA
Kirkus Reviews
New in Canada and unable even to understand the language, Tuyet faces a painful operation to straighten an ankle bent by polio years earlier in Vietnam. Skrypuch continues the story she began in Last Airlift: A Vietnamese Orphan's Rescue from War (2012), but it's not necessary to have read the first to appreciate this true story of healing. Drawing on her subject's reminiscences, the author describes Tuyet's operation and subsequent recovery with sympathy and respect. Although this takes place in 1975, it seems immediate. Seven-year-old Tuyet secretly dreams of being able to kick a ball and play with other children. As long as she can remember, she has only been able to watch. Shortly after her adoption by the Morris family, a Vietnamese-speaking woman comes to explain that she will be having an operation. After, another Vietnamese speaker visits her in the hospital and gives her a piece of paper with Vietnamese and English words she can point to when she needs something. Otherwise, this brave child endures this frightening experience without the ability to communicate. Her eventual joy at having red shoes that match and, even better, a brace and ugly brown built-up shoe that allow her to stand on her own two feet, is infectious. Readers of this moving refugee story will celebrate as well. (Nonfiction. 9-12)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781927485019
  • Publisher: Pajama Press
  • Publication date: 9/4/2012
  • Pages: 128
  • Age range: 8 - 12 Years
  • Lexile: 780L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 8.10 (h) x 0.60 (d)

Meet the Author

Marsha Forchuk Skrypuch's 18 award-winning books for young people include Last Airlift: A Vietnamese Orphan's Rescue from War, a Red Cedar Information Book Award winner and OLA Red Maple Honour Book. Its sequel, One Step at a Time: A Vietnamese Child Finds Her Way, is nominated for the OLA Silver Birch Non-Fiction Award. In 2008, in recognition of her outstanding achievement in the development Ukraine's culture, Marsha was awarded the Order of Princess Olha. She lives in Brantford, Ontario.

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