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Wednesday, June 24, 2015

In a Village by the Sea by Muon Van

Hi there!
Welcome back to Satisfaction for Insatiable Readers.
Today, we're diving into a Picture Book selection via JKS Communications and Creston Books.  It is unique in the path it takes to relay a story that so many have lived while making it accessible to even the youngest of readers on some level.  So in pre-celebratory fashion for the upcoming Vietnamese Family Day (June 28th), I give you today's book of choice...

Muon Van
Illustrated by
April Chu
About the book...
Written in a spare, lyrical style using fresh, evocative
imagery, this richly illustrated picture book is about
longing for the comforts of home while braving the
adventures and perils of the wide world.
The perfect book for teaching about diverse cultures
and lifestyles, children will delight in this beautiful
story which pays homage to the vanishing fishing
culture in Vietnam, honors courage and sacrifice, and
celebrates hearth and home.
Everything said above is certainly true but it's one thing to read the description and an something else entirely to experience it. 
The story itself is told with very few words.  In fact, if you're above the target age group, I guarantee that you'll be scratching your head upon initially finishing the read.  Why?  Well, because that's when we tend to over think things instead of taking them for their face value.  The story is as simple as it's presented but it's also fueled by a heartfelt desire to share what the author's family and others went through every day in order to provide for their loved ones.  Being fisherman of the sea can be a wonderful occupation and it preserves traditions worth continuing, however it is often fraught with danger, disaster, and despair...and not just for those riding the waves.  Each time a boat leaves, it is not the fishermen alone that travel its decks, but the hearts and souls of those loved ones awaiting their return home. 
Here those loved ones are depicted within each scene as they go about their daily lives awaiting the return of the boats.  It shows how everyone and everything is connected down to the smallest of the small, in this case the cricket painting the picture of the boat riding the waves that we were originally greeted with at the start.  It's curious to see how everything adds up and to recognize different things within each picture from the one prior.  I especially loved the inclusion of the dog.  What can I say?  I'm a pet person...but the entire package as a whole does wonders to convey the hopes, and dreams of a culture trying to preserve its traditions. 
Recommended read for the young and young at heart.
About the author...
MUON VAN was born on the run in the southern port city of Rạch Giá, Vietnam. When she was nine months old, she left Vietnam as part of the “boat people” mass exodus. She now lives in Northern California with her family, where she gets a glimpse of the sea every morning and every evening.
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About the illustrator...
APRIL CHU began her career as an architect with a degree from the University of California,
Berkeley, but decided to return to her true passion of illustrating and storytelling. April currently lives
and works in Oakland, California.
Special thanks to Chelsea at JKS Communications for the review copy as well as the chance to bring this title to the spotlight.  (THANKS!)  For more information on this title, the author, the illustrator, the publisher, or those promotions on the horizon, feel free to click through the links provided above.  This title was released this Spring via Creston Books, so be on the lookout for it on a bookstore shelf or virtual retailer of your choosing.
Until next time...happy reading!

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