9781772780055_cover Enlarge Cover
5 of 5
1 rating
list price: $22.95
category: Children's Nonfiction
published: Sep 2016
publisher: Pajama Press Inc.

Adrift at Sea

A Vietnamese Boy's Story of Survival

by Marsha Forchuk Skrypuch, illustrated by Brian Deines, with Tuan Ho

tagged: emigration & immigration, historical, asia

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.

About the Authors

Marsha Forchuk Skrypuch

Brian Deines

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.
Recommended Age, Grade, and Reading Levels
6 to 9
1 to 4
Editorial Reviews

The authors include personal photographs of Tuan’s family, before their escape and following their settling in Canada, to help readers understand this historical moment in time....Brian Deines (as he always does) has created truly beautiful artwork using oils on canvas to bring Tuan’s story to this book’s readers.

— Sal's Fiction Addiction

Adrift at Sea is a heartwarming story that will prompt young people to be grateful for the good things in their lives, and highly recommended.

— Midwest Book Review

[The young narrator] still very clearly depicts the fear, the hot sun, lack of water, and relief at being rescued at an age appropriate level that any young reader will be able understand....Deines's highly textured oil on canvas illustrations capture all the secrecy, fear, and perils, all wrapped up in the dangerously hazy, hot, and humid weather...Adrift at Sea is a powerful historical nonfiction story that can certainly help shed light on events of the past that share a similarity to those that are happening in the world today.

— The Children's War

This book is true, and it is really sad....[it] is a good book to help you understand how people feel and the things they have to do if they feel like they need to run away from bad things that are happening where they live. —Rachel, Age 9

— Kids' BookBuzz

My 12 year-old son read this story too and felt saddened by Tuan[’s] harrowing escape....The illustrations are simply beautiful and the style perfect for this dramatic story....I highly recommend this book as a teaching tool and feel that it should be in every library.

— Library of Clean Reads, Laura Fabiani and Son

Brian Deines' subtle double-page oil paintings add greatly to the mood and text of this story....This book is very timely as we have so many refugees from war torn countries in the Middle East now attempting to make their way to a better life under the same kind of conditions that the Vietnamese people experienced back in 1981....I would highly recommend this book for all school and public libraries.

— Resource Links

...[A] powerful story, and it doesn’t shy away from the dangers experienced—sometimes fatally—by the refugees.

— Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books

The beautiful, full-page oil paintings effectively convey the dangerous escape, the blistering heat, and the loneliness of being adrift on the ocean....This is an especially useful book to help students understand why refugees are still crowding into boats and risking everything for a better life even today.

— School Library Connection

The text is terse and unembellished, leaving the images to capture the emotions through color and perspective—and they do so with compelling immediacy.

— Booklist

From the illustration of a lone boat adrift in a wash of dry heat that graces the cover of Adrift at Sea, to the dark and engrossing images of Tuan’s steps along the journey, Brian Deines’ art is evocative and integrative, resplendent in complementary colours of orange and golds and blues and purples.

— CanLit for LittleCanadians

I loved the "before" and "after" pictures as well as the brief historical overview of events relating to the war in Vietnam....The soft-focus artwork done by Brian Deines that illustrates each page is amazing....The author has produced a very readable book that both parents and children should read together. I highly recommend this beautiful book.

— Library of Clean Reads, Sandra Olshaski

This beautifully illustrated picture book tells the story of Tuan's days at sea and their eventual rescue by American sailors. End pages include photographs and information that round out the story and tell of Tuan's life in with his family in Toronto.

— Nerdy Book Club

The illustrations in this book, full color paintings, are absolutely stunning....Brian Deines, has outdone himself in two-page spreads that bring this refugee story to life....[A] good introduction to the subject of the Vietnamese boat people...

— Semicolon

Adrift at Sea tells this difficult tale with a direct honesty that creates an opportunity for accompanied discussion, especially for some younger readers. Skrypuch maintains a strong sense of hope throughout, demonstrating the true strength of young Tuan.

— Canadian Children’s BookNews

...Tuan's dramatic story of survival comes alive in Skrypuch's capable hands. The heart-pounding action alone is enough to captivate readers, but Skrypuch also incorporates moments of great poignancy that add depth and emotion....Deines's accompanying artwork is achingly beautiful....That danger can exist amid such beauty is an important lesson to learn. That the human spirit can triumph under the most trying of conditions is even more important.

— Quill and Quire

This beautifully illustrated nonfiction picture book introduces the reader to a real family....An interesting read that explains why and how people are sometimes forced to flee and find a new homeland.

— The International Educator

This beautiful nonfiction picture book tells a powerful story of survival...Tuan Ho's account of his family's perilous trip, along with beautiful oil paintings to illustrate this narrative, make this a terrific resource for anyone who wants to learn more about Vietnamese refugees...

— Jana the Teacher

In this picture book for somewhat older readers, Ho narrates the story of his perilous escape from postwar Vietnam, in 1981, describing his pain at leaving behind loved ones and relief upon being rescued by an American aircraft carrier after six days adrift on the ocean. The text is terse and unembellished, leaving the rich images to capture the emotional events. Photographs of the family bookend the story and remind readers of the events' reality.

— Booklist Online

[A] remarkable tale of perseverance that involved attacks from soldiers, a broken boat at sea, and a trip that was intended to last four days but went horribly awry....This is a solid informational resource that can be used for introducing a refugee’s experience.

— School Library Journal

Adrift at Sea is a heartwarming story that will prompt young people to be grateful for the good things in their lives, and highly recommended.

— Midwest Book Review

...detailed authors' notes include history, photographs, and maps. The warm undertones in Deines' oil paintings evoke tropical Vietnam.

— Kirkus Reviews

The amazing life-like illustrations and large format makes it an engaging read-aloud. I appreciated the historical facts and real photos of Tuan in his family included at the back of the book.

— readingpowergear.wordpress.com

Tuan Ho was only six years old when his family embarked on a dangerous voyage to escape Vietnam and became part of the 'boat people' fleeing their homeland: his story is told in a non-fiction narrative that captures the experience for young readers. Highly recommended.

— Midwest Book Review

The evocative text and powerful illustrations, painted with oils, enable readers to feel as though they, too, are refugees adrift at sea during this risky journey to freedom..

— Literacy Daily

Skrypuch uses one child’s story to give moving insight into the experience of the many children who escaped war-ravaged Vietnam to start new lives....Deines’s hazy oil paintings poignantly capture the family’s physical ordeal and anguish during their perilous journey.

— Publisher's Weekly


Top  Grade
Librarian review

Adrift at Sea: A Vietnamese Boy’s Story of Survival

Tuan Ho’s story of the flight of Vietnam’s “Boat People” refugees is a powerful resource to help students understand the refugee experience and its connection to contemporary world issues. The first-person perspective allows readers to identify with the challenges of survival in a time of crisis. This book serves as an excellent example of a non-fiction autobiographical narrative. The vivid illustrations provide rich visuals and bring-to-life the hardships experienced by Vietnamese refugees. A helpful afterword accompanies the text, providing historical context and biographical details alongside photographs.

Source: Association of Canadian Publishers. Diversity Collection Selection 2017.

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