There’s a river just down the road from where I live. Just as the world is waking up, I often run the path along its edge. As I loop around, I notice several fishermen. They are fishing for food or for pleasure. I’m never quite sure which, but some have their families alongside and some are alone. In either case, when I see them, it reminds me of the little boy and this story.
The first time I read A Different Pond written by Bao Phi, Illustrated by Thi Bui, I was so excited to share it with the world. It deserves that at the very least. This is a lovely story about a boy who learns the importance of fishing very early in the morning with his father. After moving from Vietnam, before he heads off to work, on a Saturday, the father shows his son why fishing for food is still an important way of life and how their homeland practices can cultivate memories, traditions, and prosperity in America.
Why am I so passionate about it? It’s a real and raw look at an immigrant’s life and though coming to America in search for a “better life,” the dream of it is quite different than actually living it. The strong reality is told through the lens of a young child, which I found very powerful. But the juxtaposition is a grown adult recounting a personal memory of him and his father fishing. To the author -the young boy in the book-, it is simply time with his father. Innocence meets truth. We don’t often get that in a picture book. It’s brilliant.
I found it so special, it became my first intro YouTube read-aloud story. (It is my first one, so please be kind). We can’t forget to talk about the artwork. Bui defines her art in frames delivering a graphic novel style, and though layered in cool blues and blacks, it decidedly feels easy and calming. The stillness imagery is so evident and present that we are physically set in the early, dark morning. Because of this calmness, I felt that it was necessary to voice and sit on each page for a moment, to not turn each page so quickly, and engage in the serenity of the art. I’m hoping the children will feel this soothing feel. It is a perfect bedtime story.
Picture books, as we know, are an important portal to conversation, and this is perfect for that topic of immigration: where are we from? How did we get here? By plane, by car, by boat? Why do some fish for food while others, for pleasure. The conversation of memories and traditions is here too, and for that, there is a downloadable below. Every child deserves to tell their story. Of course, the topic is optional. In any event, whichever you choose, please choose to read this story.
Published by Capstone Young Readers; 1st Edition (August, 2017), Hardcover, 32 Pages
Caldecott Honor Book (2018), Charlotte Zolotow Award (2018), Ezra Jack Keats Book Award Nominee for Illustrator (2018), Boston Globe-Horn Book Award Nominee for Picture Book (2018), Monarch Award Nominee (2019), Goodreads Choice Award Nominee for Picture Books (2017), Asian/Pacific American Award for Literature for Picture Books (2018)
Available: Amazon.com $10.54
Lesson Plan and Activities – Lesson plans (Individual), Guided Reading Books, Literacy Center Ideas by Teachers Pay Teachers