Water Buffalo Days: Growing up in Vietnamby Huynh Quang Nhuong, Mou-Sien Tseng (Illustrator), Jean Tseng (Illustrator)
Nhuong gives readers a glimpse of himself when he
As a young boy growing up in the hills of central Vietnam, Nhuong's companion was Tank, the family water buffalo. When bullies harassed Nhuong, Tank sent them packing. When a wild tiger threatened the entire village, Tank defeated it. He led the herd and adopted a lonely puppy. Tank was Nhuong's best friend.
Nhuong gives readers a glimpse of himself when he was their age, and tells a thrilling story of how he and Tank together faced the dangers of life in the Vietnamese jungle which was their home.
Author Biography: Huynh Quang Nhuong also wrote The Land I Lost, which was published in five languages and received numerous awards. He was born in Mytho, Vietnam, and now lives in Columbia, MO..
Jean and Mou-sien Tseng are preeminent illustrators of Asian children's literature whose work for The Boy Who Swallowed Snakes won the American Book Award. They have also illustrated A Treasury of Mermaids by Shirley Climo (see pages 30-31). They live in Glen Cove, NY.
Read an Excerpt
Missing Water Jug
My family owned a small herd of water buffaloes, which consisted of two females and a male named Water jug. The bull got his name because his big and round stomach resembled the kind of gourds we used as water jugs. Water jug was a good worker and a good friend.
He had never been sick in his life, but when old age caught up with Water jug, he died little by little, like a lamp burning its last drops of oil. For several weeks before his death he could not walk, and we had to bring food and water to him.
On the morning we found him lying dead, we buried him in the graveyard, as we had done for all the dead of our family.
Long after old Water jug's death, I still missed him, and I often sat at his graveside remembering the good times we had spent together. During the rainy season, he had carried me on his back to the rice field, where I fished.
One day while sitting on his back and fishing for sword fish, I became restless. Normally the pond was full of sword fish, but that day I waited and waited and none of them would bite. I was making an earthworm jump on the surface of the pond to lure the fish, when suddenly I saw a huge, snakelike head shoot out of the water and snap at it. I was terrified and almost ordered Water jug to back up and run. But soon the rest of a green turtle appeared and snapped the fishing line with a single stroke of her foreleg.
It took me a minute to recover, as I had thought the head belonged to a huge horse snake, the most savage reptile in the area. And at that moment old Water jug lowered his head and snorted, ready to defend both of us.
I missed old Water jug especially whenit rained all day and frogs croaked loudly in the rice field. I wished I could go there on his back to catch those tasty amphibians. The two female water buffaloes we owned, like most water buffalo cows, were not trained to have people on their backs. And my parents would not let me go to the field alone, because they did not want me walking on all those slippery paths. So I had to stay home, listening to the endless croaking and missing old Water jug more and more.
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