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It is 1981. In the middle of the Pacific Ocean, a fishing boat overloaded with 60 Vietnamese refugees drifts. The motor has failed; the hull is leaking; the drinking water is nearly gone. This is the dramatic true story recounted by Tuan Ho, who was six years old when he, his mother, and two sisters dodged the bullets of Vietnam's military police for the perilous chance of boarding that boat. Told to multi-award-winning author Marsha Forchuk Skrypuch and illustrated by the celebrated Brian Deines, Tuan's story has become Adrift At Sea, the first picture book to describe the flight of Vietnam's "Boat People" refugees. Illustrated with sweeping oil paintings and complete with an expansive historical and biographical section with photographs, this non-fiction picture book is all the more important as the world responds to a new generation of refugees risking all on the open water for the chance at safety and a new life.
Marsha Forchuk Skrypuch's award-winning books for young people include Last Airlift, a Red Cedar Information Book Award winner and OLA Red Maple Honour Book. Its sequel, One Step at a Time, won the OLA Silver Birch Non-Fiction Award. Her YA novel Dance of the Banished is a Junior Library Guild Selection for 2015. 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.
Tuan Ho escaped Vietnam at age six in 1981 among thousands of other boat people refugees. Through author Marsha Forchuk Skrypuch, he has told the story of how he, his mother, and two sisters survived five days adrift on the ocean with dwindling fresh water before being rescued by a U.S. aircraft carrier. Joining the rest of his family in Canada, he went on to attend school in Toronto and is now an accomplished physiotherapist. Tuan and his wife Edae have two young daughters, Madeline and Emily.
Brian Deines is a fine artist and the award-winning illustrator of over 20 children's books, including A Bear in War, Bear on the Homefront, The Road to Afghanistan, and On a Snowy Night. Dragonfly Kites, part of a trilogy written by Tomson Highway, was shortlisted for the Governor General's Award for illustration and the Ruth & Sylvia Schwartz Children's Book Award. A graduate of the Alberta College of Art, Brian lives in Toronto, Ontario with his wife and daughter.
On the second day, our boat springs a leak. I wish I could drink the water that laps around my feet, but it’s full of salt. Ma and Nghia take turns bailing. It’s hard work and few offer to help. Don’t they realize our boat could sink? The captain gives them a bottle of water in thanks. We hide this treasure in our bags.
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