As in his Caldecott Honor Book A Different Pond (2017), Phi deeply understands both differences and family bonds. Tran's soft, rounded artwork adds an unexpected flavor to a story that goes deep into the power of imagination and empathy.
Like his first picture book, “A Different Pond,” Bao Phi’s new book is a simple story that contains multitudes. . . .This delightful story about games, imagination, mythology and familial love also touches on more serious themes without becoming preachy — bullying, courage, female empowerment, race and sexual orientation. Phi’s vivid writing (a cardinal “could fly away into the giant pane of sky”) and charming illustrations by Polish-Vietnamese illustrator Basia Tran, make this a book that children will want to reread.
Phi, a poet and author whose awards include a Caldecott Honor and an Ezra Jack Keats Honor, has crafted a lyrical tale about the power of imagination and finding strength in family and cultural heritage. It’s also notable as one of few LGBTQ-inclusive picture books to focus on Asian characters. Consider this a must-have for any LGBTQ kids’ collection.
"Back to School 2019: New Kids’ Books Sp Washington Blade
I found so much to love in this book. The story starts off with a little girl, Thuy, being bullied. But it doesn’t focus on the bullies or the bullying. Instead we see Thuy’s brilliant and rich imagination, her two moms surrounding her with understanding and love, and Thuy finding her own courage. This beautiful story reminds us that there are many ways to be strong.
This beautiful story about a young Vietnamese American girl’s resilience will give courage to readers everywhere. Tran’s bright illustrations communicate Thuy’s hopeful spirit and the power of her imagination. Readers who love Ezra Keats’ The Snowy Day and Zetta Elliott's I Love Snow! will love My Footprints!
[Tran's] illustrations perfectly capture Thuy’s facial expressions as she imagines each animal, and Tran’s mythical creatures, including a dragon and a phoenix, are magnificent.
Thuy is of Vietnamese origin with two moms, and because of this she is bullied at school. One wintry afternoon, after seeing a cardinal and the footprints he leaves in the snow, she escapes the loneliness by using her imagination and creating her own bird-like footprints.
"50 Must-Read Children's Books From the Second Ha Book Riot
Gr 1–3—The story opens with a young Vietnamese-American girl named Thuy being laughed at again by two kids as she's leaving school alone on a winter day. It's clear in Thuy's expressions how upsetting the bullies' taunts are. Walking through the crunchy snow, she looks behind her and notices her footprints. Thuy continues on her way home "dipping the tips of her boots deep into the snow…, wanting to feel peaceful, quiet, left alone." She reaches home to find her moms outside shoveling snow. When Thuy doesn't want to talk about her day she storms off, making tracks in the snow like a snake. Thuy works through her emotions of anger and sadness by mimicking different animals' footprints in the snow—a spotted leopard "that can blend into its surroundings and disappear if it's threatened," then a grizzly bear—"strong and brave, a bear stands up for itself. Other animals are afraid to make fun of it." When Momma Arti and Momma Ngoc join Thuy in the backyard she asks them what the strongest animal is. When Momma Arti suggest an elephant, Thuy declares: "I want to be the biggest and strongest and scariest monster…so that if kids at school make fun of me for having two moms, or tell me to go back to where I come from, or call me names. Or bother me because I'm a girl, I can make them stop." There it is. So begins a game with the three making footprints of their favorite animals Thuy makes up her own creature—"one that never hurts or makes fun of anyone"—an "Arti-Thuy-Ngoc-osaurus!" The story ends with the three holding hands, chanting "our footprints", making heart shapes in the snow. Back matter includes a deeply personal author's note mentioning his own history of being bullied. Basia Tran's illustrations are pitch perfect and make the story all the more poignant. VERDICT A timeless and important book that deals with the fallout of bullying and the power of a child's imagination to overcome with the strength and support of a loving family.— Megan Kilgallen, Packer Collegiate Institute, Brooklyn
Thuy wants to overcome the bullies that taunt her.
Graphite-and-digital color illustrations show Thuy sadly walking home from menacing bullies at school. Thuy is Asian and wears an adorable cat hat over her straight, shoulder-length black hair. Tran's bubbly cartoon style excels at Thuy's many facial expressions. In "the crisp, white blanket of new snow," Thuy's footprints begin to embody animals that she admires: "V" shapes for a cardinal that can fly from danger, deep stomps for a towering grizzly bear, and others. When her two loving parents, Momma Ngoc and Momma Arti (the former likely Vietnamese, like Thuy, and the latter South Asian), join her in this therapeutic imaginary play, together all three become a phoenix, then the Hindu Sarabha, and then a whole new creature—complete with heart-shaped footprints. By including colorful double-page spreads of the phoenix and Sarabha and further information about these ancient creatures in the backmatter, the book sends a powerful message about the strength children can draw from their own cultural heritage. With this story about two moms joining their daughter through child-centered play to face adversity as one, Phi explains in his author's note, he hopes to nurture the marginalized and challenge "systems of harm." Even though Thuy's repetition of the titular phrase stilts the story's rhythm at times, this doesn't overshadow the underlying message: It's good to open up to the people who love you.
Both a meaningful effort toward inclusion and a solid conversation starter about bullying.
(Picture book. 5-9)
As a Vietnamese American girl who has two moms, Thuy feels different, and is bullied at school. One snowy day as she walks home, she channels her feelings by imagining herself as different animals and mimicking what their prints would look like. When she gets home, her moms join her in finding power through love and imagination. Recommended by Denver Public Library children’s librarian, Liesel Schmidt.
Colorado Parent, 7 Great Snow Day Reads - Lydia Rueger
Thuy and her family's footprints will walk right into your heart. A loving look at imagination, confidence and courage.
Having a book like My Footprints that addresses tough times while not making it the focus is crucial. The author does a fantastic job of making Thuy and her mothers’ imagination be the healing power that their family needs. Focusing on the love instead of the hate, we can have tough conversations with those around us to create more empathy and windows into the lives of others around us. . . .One of the best books of the year in our opinion.
In this snowy yet colorful picture book, little Thuy uses her imagination to recover from a bullying incident at school, with help from her two mothers. Ages 4 to 7.
New York Times, "Teach Your Kids to Resist Hatred Toward Asians" - Michelle Lee
A shout-out to self-empowerment and a love song to family, this book leaves footprints of its own!
Minnesota author Bao Phi tells the tale of Thuy, who suffers schoolyard taunts about her Vietnamese heritage — and her two mothers. Upset, Thuy stomps off through the snow pretending to be animals that wouldn’t suffer bullying, which inspires her mothers to join in with some fantastical Vietnamese beasts of their own.
Minnesota Parent - Ed Dykhuizen