Pajama Press

Posts Tagged ‘Tuyet’

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.

Marking 40 Years Since the Vietnamese Orphan Airlift

Posted on April 13th, 2015 by pajamapress

LastAirlift_Website 40 years ago this month, approximately 3,000 orphans, mostly babies, were hurried onto airplanes departing Saigon (now Ho Chi Minh City). The city was about to fall to the North Vietnamese forces, and humanitarian organizations worried that many orphans, especially those fathered by American soldiers or those with disabilities, would be at risk. Families in Canada, the United States, and other nations signed up to adopt the evacuated orphans.

OneStepAtATimeThe project, known as the “Orphan Airlift” in Canada and “Operation Babylift” in the United States, is not without controversy, but for Tuyet Morris, Née Son Thi Anh Tuyet, it was the beginning of a miraculous new life. Older than the other orphans and physically disabled from polio, she had never expected to be adopted. The story of her rescue on the final Canadian airlift, her adoption into the loving Morris family, and her determined struggle to walk and play like other children, is recounted in the juvenile biographies Last Airlift: A Vietnamese Orphan’s Rescue from War and One Step at a Time: A Vietnamese Child Finds Her Way. Author Marsha Forchuk Skrypuch reflects on the experience of discovering Tuyet’s story:

“It was a revelation to finally discover Tuyet. I had been wanting to write about the airlift rescue for quite some time and had wanted to write the story from the point of view of one of the rescued children. But because most of those rescued were babies at the time, it meant my days were spent interviewing adoptive parents and the story from their perspective. Interesting and poignant, yes, but not the story I wanted to tell.

And then, through the grapevine, I found out that the oldest orphan on that last flight to Canada lived in my own home town. Not only that, but she lived around the corner from my old house and her kids went to the same school that my son had gone to.

I looked up her phone number and called out of the blue. She was receptive and friendly and agreed to meet. We chose a local Vietnamese restaurant.

And the rest, they say, is history.”

—Marsha Forchuk Skrypuch

More content related to the Orphan Airlift:


Good News Toronto shares books to help kids through new beginnings

Posted on January 16th, 2014 by pajamapress

OneStepAtATimeGood News Toronto has shared a list of books to help kids deal with new beginnings. Among them is One Step at a Time: A Vietnamese Child Finds Her Way by Marsha Forchuk Skrypuch:

“One Step at a Time: A Vietnamese Child Finds Her Way by Marsha Forchuk Skrypuch (published by Pajama Press)is the true story of Tuyet, an orphaned refugee from wartorn Vietnam who is adopted by a Canadian family. Life in a strange country with a new language presents many challenges, including the first of six operations to repair her left leg, which was deformed by polio. Through incredible determination and strength of character, along with the support of her family, Tuyet learns to walk without the aid of crutches. Readers 8 to 11 years old will marvel at Tuyet’s perseverance and laugh at moments when she reveals her unfamiliarity with Canadian customs, such as when Tuyet doesn’t understand why her first-ever birthday cake is ‘on fire.'”

Click here to read the full list.

Publishers Weekly features books that help kids cope with war

Posted on September 16th, 2013 by pajamapress

Publishers Weekly recently published an article by Sally Lodge featuring books for children that “sort through the complexities of war.” One of these books is Last Airlift: A Vietnamese Orphan’s Rescue from War by Marsha Forchuk Skrypuch. Lodge writes, “This true story examines one girl’s life in a Saigon orphanage, her dramatic rescue and relocation to North America, and her adoption into a loving family.”

You can read the full article here.


Library Matters reviews Last Airlift

Posted on May 21st, 2013 by pajamapress

Last Airlift won the non-fiction Red Cedar Club Award this year. All the students at Dickens who have read it enjoyed it immensely. I even have a couple creating a book trailer for it.

Because I hadn’t yet got around to reading it, last weekend I took it home. It is indeed a great and emotional read. (Imagine me sitting on the ferry trying to surreptitiously wipe tears from my eyes.) It deals gently with a difficult topic.”

Click here to read the full review.

Love Builds Families adoption website reviews One Step at a Time

Posted on February 13th, 2013 by pajamapress

Tuyet was born in Vietnam and raised in an orphanage until a family in the US adopts her.  Tuyet was stricken with polio which has left her leg weak and her foot twisted.  She needs to have a series of operations to help her walk again and this is her story.  Tuyet doesn’t speak English and is very scared about what is happening, but her parents find people to translate for her to help her along until she learns English.  This is a story of bravery, love, and courage.

Click here to read the full post.

Resource Links calls One Step at a Time “eye-opening”

Posted on November 9th, 2012 by pajamapress

One Step at a Time is an easy-to-read book about Tuyet, a Vietnamese girl adopted by a Canadian family. It is the sequel to Last Airlift: A Vietnamese Orphan’s Rescue from War and picks up where that book leaves off. Tuyet suffers great pain from having a weak ankle. Just weeks after her adoption, her new family decides Tuyet should have surgery to correct the problem. Tuyet goes through the surgery, learns to use crutches, and takes physiotherapy in the hope of one day being able to walk confidently on her own two feet.

At the same time, Tuyet, who speaks little English, is learning about her new family, new home, and new culture and is healing from terrifying experiences in Vietnam. Events that seem ordinary to many Canadian children are extraordinary for Tuyet, and we share her confusion and delight as situations—such as a flaming cake and a pile of pretty boxes, or the passing of a crop-dusting airplane—begin to resolve into meaning.

This is a gentle non-fiction telling of a particular period in Canadian history and of the experience of being a new immigrant with health concerns. Notes in the end matter provide some useful context for readers who may not understand the significance of polio or the conventions of narrative non-fiction. Black-and-white photos, including pictures of Tuyet and her family, add to the reading experience. Although Tuyet’s experiences are unusual and sometimes frightening, the narrative is full of love, kindness, and comfort.

One Step at a Time is a good choice for sensitive young readers interested in non-fiction about other children, other cultures, and recent history; it may be eye-opening for many readers. Although aspects of Canadian culture have changed, the disorientation that new Canadians experience may be similar to Tuyet’s. The book is likely to encourage many questions and wide-ranging discussion in a reading group, and the story is highly likeable. Readers do not need to know the author’s earlier book about Tuyet to understand this one, but many will want to read more about this brave and spirited girl.

Rating: G – Good, even great at times, generally useful!

—Leslie Vermeer

LibrisNotes reviews Last Airlift and One Step at a Time

Posted on October 22nd, 2012 by pajamapress

“Marsha Skrypuch has written two short books for young readers that tell the story of eight year old Son Thi Anh Tuyet, a Vietnamese orphan who was adopted by a family from Brantford, Ontario. Living in an orphanage in Saigon, in 1975, Tuyet  had been crippled by polio when younger and was suffering from psychological trauma as a result of  her experiences during the Vietnam War…

These two books will serve as a gentle introduction for younger children to an event known as the Fall of Saigon and also the Vietnam War. Skrypuch’s books can also be used as the jumping point for children learning about the Vietnamese refugees who came to Canada in the mid-1970’s.” –LibrisNotes

Click here to read the full review.

Brantford Expositor interviews Marsha and Tuyet

Posted on September 11th, 2012 by pajamapress

Marsha Forchuk Skrypuch and Tuyet Yurczyszyn (born Son Thi Anh Tuyet, later Tuyet Morris), met with Brantford Expositor journalist Michelle Ruby this week to talk about One Step at a Time: A Vietnamese Child Finds Her Way. The book, written by Marsha about Tuyet’s experiences as a young refugee in Canada, is the sequel to Last Airlift: A Vietnamese Orphan’s Rescue from War, which tells of Tuyet’s rescue from Vietnam and adoption into the Morris family in Canada.

Click here to read the interview.

The Vietnamese Orphan Airlift: A Tribute

Posted on August 3rd, 2012 by pajamapress

In 1975, as the city of Saigon in South Vietnam was falling to the North Vietnamese army, western governments and aid workers scrambled to evacuate thousands of orphans who were at risk of being killed. Many flights made it safely to the United States, Canada, England, and elsewhere. One did not. Last week we interviewed Tuyết Phạm, who told us about Mai, the little girl her family would have adopted had her plane not crashed just after takeoff in Vietnam. Today Tuyết shares a tribute she wrote to Mai during her first-ever return visit to Vietnam at the age of 39.

Hello Mai,

It has now been 35 years and I’ve finally returned home to pay homage to our country, to you, and to this crash site.  It’s taken a long time for me to return, but now I am here to celebrate your life. You see, Mai, I was not on that plane, but your would-be brother was.  He was coming to Canada with you to join this family, and they were all looking forward to meeting you both.  Unfortunately, the crash took away their joy when they learned that you would not be joining them. What happened was a tragedy. On April 4, 1975, Operation Babylift was organized by the Americans to help get as many babies and children out of Vietnam as possible. You were up in the air with hundreds of other children coming out of the orphanage, including your would-be brother. One of the plane doors was not securely fastened when the plane took off, and it blew open and the plane lost control. The pilot was able to land in the rice paddies below, about two miles short of the runway, but the plane kept on going and bounced for quite some time before it all came to a complete halt and silence. Smoke from the crash could be seen for miles. Pieces of the craft were lying all over the rice paddies. It is said that the plane broke into four huge pieces and all the children, including you, who were in the belly of the plane did not survive. It is believed that out of the 328 passengers aboard the C-5A Galaxy aircraft, 155 were killed, 98 of those being babies and children. Your crash made news in the media all around the world.

Thirty-five years later, we see children of the Vietnam War, and those who helped you and all these children come out of Vietnam, still trying to put their lives together. Many are still struggling to get past the horror of the plane crash. Many still relive the nightmare. These children have grown up now but still seem to be at a loss as to their identity, where they came from, who their parents were, and why they are here.

It is unfortunate that this tragedy happened. Your would-be parents were expecting you. You would have been happy in this home. Of course, there would always be ups and downs to deal with. You would have moved around a lot, but you would have had lots of brothers and sisters to keep you company. You would have liked this family, Mai, with all of its craziness, with everyone having different interests, different likes and dislikes, different tastes, and certainly different personalities.

Growing up, you would have had to deal with a lot of issues, like, who are you? Who were your parents? Why are you so different from the biological kids your parents have? Would your parents love you more or less than their own? Why did your parents adopt you? Why are you the only Asian child in your school? How will you fit in?

Your would-be parents, however, still wanted to adopt a little girl from Vietnam, and this time it would be a girl with special needs. They were told about a little girl needing a home to go to about a few weeks after your crash. I arrived to the family on April 19, 1975, with the media naming me as a ‘replacement’ for you. It would be years later when I asked your would-be parents about this article. All they could say was that it was just the media, doing their job.

I think in some strange way, Mai, maybe this crash had to happen for me to be adopted and to be able to tell you about this, years later. Maybe I was meant to be here.  But for now, I have returned.

For information about Operation Babylift in the United States, visit

For more information on the Canadian Orphan flights, you can find Last Airlift: A Vietnamese Orphan’s Rescue from War  by Marsha Forchuk Skrypuch at a bookstore near you.