“Reads more like fiction than nonfiction, a factor that will make the book particularly enjoyable to read as well as a very effective learning tool.”—Booklist
- Publisher's Weekly
Following the same format used in their In the Village of the Elephants, Schmidt and Wood combine simple, informative prose with action-filled photos to capture a true-life story. TJ and his mother travel from their home in Denver to Vietnam for a reunion-TJ's mother fled that country as a 10-year-old in 1975, as the war raged, and she is returning for the first time. Through TJ's eyes, the reader encounters the colorful outdoor markets of Saigon and the eerie starkness of the Cu Chi fighting tunnels, then shares TJ's first, emotional meeting with the grandparents his mother believed to be dead. The bulk of the book follows TJ's often funny adventures on the family farm as he tries his hand at plowing with oxen, sees his first silkworm, tastes traditional Vietnamese food, travels the river on a bamboo canoe and plays with his cousins. The writing is unexceptional, but the content is strong enough to compel the reader's attention. Ages 8-12. (Apr.)
- Gisela Jernigan
Although his mother escaped Vietnam in 1975 as a child, her young son, T.J. has grown up in the US as a typical American boy and knows little about his Vietnamese relatives and heritage. Using many striking full color photos and a lively text, we travel with T.J. and his mother back to Vietnam and are able to share his experience of learning about a new culture and meeting his grandparents and other family members. Four chapters and an epilogue cover; the long flight, Saigon, the family farm and different aspects of a rural Vietnamese lifestyle. An introduction gives background information on T.J.'s mother and her escape from Vietnam in 1975. A map is included.
- Jan Lieberman
Nineteen years after his mother fled Vietnam, T.J., age 7, travels there to meet his Vietnamese relatives. His American grandmother travels with them. Ted Wood's photos capture the joy of a family reunited. The verdant fields, crowed markets, rice paddies and water buffalo open up a way of life new to T.J. This photoessay gives American children a look at a country familiar to many of their Vietnamese classmates but new to them.
School Library Journal
Gr 3-5As a child, TJ's mother, her younger sister, and her brother escaped war-torn Vietnam and were raised by an American family in Colorado. Years later, Heather reestablished contact with her Vietnamese family. In 1994, she took her oldest son, seven-year-old TJ, home to Vietnam to meet his relatives. The resulting upbeat photo essay covers their stay in Ho Chi Minh City (formerly Saigon), the two-day drive along the coast, and the visit to the family farm. Well-composed, informative, full-color photographs in a variety of attractive layouts capture such diverse scenes as bustling city life, picturesque fishing boats, and bucolic rice paddies. The book nicely contrasts American and Vietnamese life as seen through a boy's eyes. In a few instances, however, the photos do not match the text. There are awkward sentence breaks between pages and some misspellings (Ong, not nog, is Vietnamese for ``grandfather''). Overall, though, this is a useful work, particularly in Vietnamese-American communities.Diane S. Marton, Arlington County Library, VA
After years of hearing stories and seeing pictures of his mother's homeland, young TJ travels to Vietnam to visit the family his mother left behind as a child during the Vietnam War. A narrative rich in detail and striking, full-color photographs capture TJ's adventure and, in the process, introduce readers to the Vietnamese culture and landscape. With characters and something resembling a plot, the photo-essay reads more like fiction than nonfiction, a factor that will make the book particularly enjoyable to read as well as a very effective learning tool. Report writers who need material for an in-depth report will want to consult other resources, but this is a good place for research to begin.