A Different Pond by Bao Phi is a children’s book about a family who came to America (Minnesota) from Vietnam as refugees. The story is mainly about Bao and his father’s trip to the pond to fetch dinner. During the trip, Bao learns about why his mom and dad have to work so hard for a living as everything has an expense. It’s a simple read for young children and the illustrations keep their interest. The book has a graphic novel feel to it and has an artsy appearance.
A young boy wakes early in the morning, on a weekend day, to join his father for a couple of hours for fishing in a pond nearby. The time spent together is an opportunity to share life stories, especially from the ‘old country’, but also short remarks about life.
Both the writer and the illustrator were born in Vietnam and arrived in the USA following the civil war, and one can seize the nostalgy after a world they don’t necessarily know but was created through adults stories and memories. In a couple of words, and powerful simple images, a story about longing, hard life and first generation of immigrants was created, which can help us, the readers, regardless our age, to better understand the feeling of displacement and the need to stay connected with your roots, especially in a dramatically new environment. Children and adults need to nurture the memories of home and it is the power of story to invoke emotions and remember the past.
One of the major themes of the story is his father’s hard-working nature, something we’re introduced to at the very beginning, when the young boy tells us his dad has been up for hours preparing their food and packing the car. Only a few pages later we learn they’re leaving so early because his father has taken a second job.
I received this ARC from Capstone and Capstone Young Readers via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.