Pajama Press

Posts Tagged ‘marsha-forchuk-skrypuch’

Adrift at Sea is “a good introduction to the subject of the Vietnamese boat people…” says Semicolon

Posted on November 18th, 2016 by pajamapress

AdriftAtSea_website“…The illustrations in this book, full color paintings, are absolutely stunning. Canadian illustrator, Brian Deines, has outdone himself in two-page spreads that bring this refugee story to life.

The story itself, a slice of life, begins abruptly without any explanation as to why the family must leave Vietnam. Nor does the main part of the text explain what happens to Tuan Ho and family after they are rescued at sea. However, there are some explanatory pages with both photographs and text at the end of the book that tell readers about the history of the Vietnam War and about the entire history of Tuan Ho’s family and their emigration from Vietnam and eventual reunification in Canada. It’s a good introduction to the subject of the Vietnamese boat people for both older students and middle grade readers. Even primary age children could appreciate Tuan Ho’s story with a little bit of explanation from a parent or teacher about the war and the Communist persecution that they were fleeing….”

Click here to read the full review

Sal’s Fiction Addiction reviews Adrift at Sea

Posted on November 7th, 2016 by pajamapress

AdriftAtSea_website“…Today we are all aware of the refugee crisis that grips the world. Too many people are forced to flee their homes in search of safety and a better life, away from the strife and danger in their own villages, towns, cities, countries. We see their faces, hear their stories and share their hopes for a happier future.

In 1981, the ‘boat people’ from Vietnam are struggling to deal with what has happened in their own beloved country. They, too, see their only hope is in leaving….

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. Added information includes a map, archival and family photos, and an explanation for the need to leave….

The dangers were many, their journeys harrowing, and the time spent in refugee camps often too long. Still, they stayed the course and eventually many settled in ‘the United States, France, Australia, and Canada.’

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. From the lush, tropical street in Ho Chi Minh City, the dark seashore, the blistering heat of a sun-filled sky, the clear blue beauty of the sea beneath them where dolphins play, to the almost overpowering arrival of the aircraft carrier, we journey with the family as they make their courageous way to a new life.”

Click here to read the full review

Kirkus reviews Adrift at Sea

Posted on November 2nd, 2016 by pajamapress

AdriftAtSea_website“A young Vietnamese boy and his family flee Vietnam in search of a better life. Along with co-author Skrypuch, Vietnamese-Canadian Ho recounts his family’s flight from Vietnam in 1981. At the book’s outset, 6-year-old Ho returns home from school to learn that he, his mother, and his two older sisters will leave Vietnam that very night. Each hour of the Ho family’s flight is fraught with danger. Soldiers shoot at them on the beach when they make a run toward a skiff. Their boat springs a leak, and soon after, the motor dies, leaving 60 passengers adrift in the middle of the sea with little water and food. Throughout the harrowing passage, Ho’s mother is by his side, comforting him. On the sixth day of their four-day journey, an American aircraft carrier spots their boat and offers the Vietnamese passengers refuge….[D]etailed authors’ notes include history, photographs, and maps. The warm undertones in Deines’ oil paintings evoke tropical Vietnam…”

Click here to read the full review

Save

Adrift at Sea is featured on Literacy Daily’s article “War and Its Aftermath”

Posted on November 1st, 2016 by pajamapress

AdriftAtSea_website“…In this visually stunning picture book—the first to explore this troubling time—readers learn of the dangerous journey taken by 6-year-old Tuan Ho and his family in 1981. Slipping away under cover of darkness, the family ends up on an overcrowded fishing boat that breaks down, leaving them stranded and suffering from thirst and punishing heat for four days before being rescued by an American aircraft  carrier. 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. Back matter includes family photographs, showing Tuan Ho’s family then and now, as well as a brief discussion of the events that led to the family’s flight from Vietnam to Canada.”

Click here to read the full War and Its Aftermath article

Save

Adrift at Sea is “highly recommended” by both curators at Library of Clean Reads

Posted on October 24th, 2016 by pajamapress

AdriftAtSea_websiteOur Review:
Reviewed by Laura Fabiani and Son

I love immigrant stories probably because I grew up in an immigrant family. Adrift At Sea is about Tuan Ho’s escape from Vietnam when he was a boy of six. The story is told through the eyes of Tuan and we feel for him as he experiences fear, a family torn apart and days adrift at sea with little drinking water. The story has a positive ending, of course, but it brings to life what thousands of Vietnamese people went through in the early 1980s when they tried to escape.

My 12 year-old son read this story too and felt saddened by Tuan[’s] harrowing escape. He picked up on the fact that another boat caught fire and those in it did not escape. This opened up a great discussion on world events and how in some countries people are still trying to escape by boat. I think that it’s important to teach our young ones about what children in other countries go through. These are the stories of our country’s immigrants.

The illustrations are simply beautiful and the style perfect for this dramatic story. The last illustration in particular when the American soldier gives Tuan a glass of milk is a perfect way to end this nonfiction book. I also enjoyed the photographs of Tuan and his family when they were young in Vietnam to those of him today as a man with his wife and children. More factual information is accompanied with these photos.

I highly recommend this book as a teaching tool and feel that it should be in every library. It’s books like this that will make history come alive for our next generation of children.

My Review:
Reviewed by Sandra Olshaski

I was deeply touched by this beautiful true story of a family’s survival in the face of overwhelming odds as they leave Vietnam in search of a new life in the West. Sixty Vietnamese refugees, among whom is six-year-old Tuan Ho and his family, endure days at sea as the motor of the fishing boat fails, the hull is leaking, drinking water is depleted, and the merciless sun beats down upon them, They are finally rescued by an American aircraft carrier and eventually reach Canada.

I loved the ‘before’ and ‘after’ pictures as well as the brief historical overview of events relating to the war in Vietnam. It seems so long ago that our hearts were being gripped by the ordeals of the so-called Vietnamese ‘boat people.’ This book makes it very current in view of the new generation of refugees on the world scene.

The soft-focus artwork done by Brian Deines that illustrates each page is amazing. A shout-out to him! The author has produced a very readable book that both parents and children should read together.

I highly recommend this beautiful book.”

Click here to read the full review

Booklist gives Adrift at Sea a positive review

Posted on October 18th, 2016 by pajamapress

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

CanLit for LittleCanadians calls Adrift at Sea “an archive of historical importance”

Posted on September 28th, 2016 by pajamapress

AdriftAtSea_websiteAdrift at Sea: A Vietnamese Boy’s Story of Survival is a big story to tell. It’s broad in historical scope, and emotionally hefty in the distress and fear experienced by Tuan and his fellow refugees, and in its moral significance….I am ever thankful that Tuan Ho’s story does have a happy ending and that Marsha Forchuk Skrypuch chose to share it with young readers in an illustrated book and that Pajama Press chose well to pair it with the art of Brian Deines. 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.

By recounting Tuan’s story in the limited but succinct text of a picture book, Marsha Forchuk Skrypuch is able to forge a powerful connection between the emotions of the narrative and the visual i.e., the expansive oil painted art of Brian Deines. This makes Adrift at Sea: A Vietnamese Boy’s Story of Survival more than just a story about Tuan Ho. It makes it an archive of historical importance for young readers to access.

Click here to read the full review.

Adrift at Sea helps “give moving insight into the experience of the many children who escaped war-ravaged Vietnam” says Publisher’s Weekly

Posted on September 23rd, 2016 by pajamapress

AdriftAtSea_websiteAs she did in The Last Airlift and One Step at a Time, 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 (Elephant Journey) hazy oil paintings poignantly capture the family’s physical ordeal and anguish during their perilous journey.

Click here to read the full review.

Youth Services Book Reviews: “Readers…will find much to admire” in The Last Airlift‘s Tuyet

Posted on August 8th, 2016 by pajamapress

LastAirlift_WebsiteWhat did you like about the book? This is the story of one girl, Tuyet, and her journey from an orphanage in Saigon to Canada during the Vietnam War. Tuyet could not remember life outside the orphanage where she is kept indoors and helps take care of the younger children. At eight, she suffers from the effects of polio, and does not feel she will ever be adopted. In 1975, Tuyet is among the orphans on the last transport out of Saigon as the North Vietnamese take control. She makes herself useful on board the plane as well as in the orphanage in Canada. She is adopted by the Morris family, who already have a biological daughter and two adopted children. At first, Tuyet cannot believe that she is anything more than a helper, but little by little she realizes that she really is a daughter and a sister. Black and white photographs and documents supplement this biographical tale. Told from the point of view of this eight year old girl, the story is quite informative and compelling. Readers who enjoy biographies will find much to admire in Tuyet.

Anything you didn’t like about it? No

To whom would you recommend this book? This is a good choice to supplement lessons on the Vietnam War. Children who were adopted will identify with Tuyet’s story. It would also be a good choice for a biography assignment.

Who should buy this book? Public libraries and elementary school libraries.

Click here to read more of this review.

The Semah: ritual movement for International Dance Day

Posted on April 29th, 2016 by pajamapress

DanceOfTheBanished_website

British Columbia artist Pascal Milelli created an illustration of a couple dancing the semah for the cover of Dance of the Banished.

International Dance Day is a yearly event intended to celebrate dance as a universal art form that brings people together across cultural, political and ethnic barriers as a shared language. We’re celebrating today by giving centre stage to the semah, the traditional ritual-dance of the Alevi-Baktaşi people that is still flourishing today.

Both of the main characters in Dance of the Banished are Alevi, and Marsha Forchuk Skrypuch did a lot of research so she could depict these little-known people and their customs accurately. In her Author’s Note she writes that Alevism is “a 6000-year-old religion that originated in Anatolia. Over the centuries Alevism has incorporated aspects of other religions. For example, Alevis consider Ali, the son-in-law of Muhammed, to be divine. Alevis avoid mosques and do not pray five times a day. They consider women equal to men.” (229)

The semah is the key form of worship among the Alevi. It is a twirling dance where men and women dance together but never touch. The semah’s style can vary widely depending on where it is performed, but its movements are always an expression of faith that symbolism the relationship between God, the Universe and Humanity; the rotation of planets; the progression of time and change; Ali’s ascension into Heaven; and the flight of cranes. It is always accompanied by a devout musician, often the community’s dede (spiritual leader), playing the bağlama (also called the saz), an instrument like a long-necked lute, but the music’s rhythm and characteristics also vary with community and region.

The dance is commonly understood to have three parts. The ağırlama, the first stage of the dance, is characterized but slow movements; the yürütme, when the dance becomes more lively and the dancers begin to move around in a circle while making swooping arm gestures, and finally the yeldirme, the fastest and most difficult part of the dance.

In 2010 the semah was registered on UNESCO’s Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. There are several organizations in and outside of Turkey that work to protect and preserve this ritual-dance for future generations of Alevi, including offering semah training courses to Alevi youth and instruction in the bağlama for young men.

You can learn more about the semah and the Alevi people in Dance of the Banished by Marsha Forchuk Skrypuch, or by checking out the links below.

Learn More:
Semah, Alevi-Bektaşi Ritual
Semah, Alevi-Bektaşi Ritual (UNESCO)
Re-Imagining Identity: The Transformation of the Alevi Semah by Ayhan Erol

About the Artist

Pascal Milelli is an artist and painter based in British Columbia. He has contributed his talents to a variety of projects worldwide, including tea packaging in Holland, videogame slipcovers in England and book jackets. Perhaps his most recognizable work is the original cover art for Deborah Ellis‘ Breadwinner trilogy. Pascal is also the award-winning author of three children’s picture books. Click here to learn more about Pascal and view his portfolio.