Monday, February 4, 2013

Nonfiction Monday is Here Today!


Welcome to Nonfiction Monday.  If you are interested in reading about children’s literature from around the blog-o-sphere, you've come to the right place.  Please link up to today’s event with the Mister Linky’s tab at the bottom of this post or leave a comment with all pertinent information and I’ll link you up.



My contribution for today is Last Airlift: a Vietnamese Orphan’s Rescue From War by Marsha Forchuk Skrypuch.

This narrative recounts 8 year-old Tuyet’s evacuation from Saigon in 1975 as it was being invaded by Communist North Vietnamese.   The experience must have been terrifying for the little girl as she and several babies are whisked away from their orphanage, stuffed in an over crowded van that pushes through crowds of people looking for their own ways of escape, until it reaches a military airfield.  There, she and the babies (placed in boxes) are loaded onto a Hercules aircraft that would soon be filled with children.  There’s a photo that shows how the boxed babies were secured with long straps that looped around several boxes at a time.

The author conveys the desperate, rushed and tense atmosphere.  We too feel claustrophobic as the door of the airplane shuts and the heat and smell closes in around us and Tuyet.  Everyone seems kind to Tuyet but she has no understanding of why things are happening to her.  Was she selected to help with the babies like she did at the orphanage or because she has one weak ankle and foot, the result of polio?  Where is she going?  What will happen to her once she arrives?

Eventually, she arrives in Toronto. Again everyone is kind but no-one explains what is to happen next.  Her new friend, Linh thinks that they will be adopted by Canadian families but Tuyet is unsure if this will be her fate.  In Vietnam only healthy children were adopted, not children like her with a physical impediment.  But within a few days, a family does come for Tuyet who can’t believe her good fortune and initially thinks the family wants her to work for them, to help care for their other children.  This is not the case, of course and we learn how she settles into her new and often confusing, life.

Told in the third person, there is a remote element to the story that keeps us from emotionally connecting to Tuyet.  It is easy to imagine how frightening and incomprehensible the whole event must have been but the ‘voice’ of the book has a distant quality to it.  In the author’s note, Skrypuch mentions that Tuyet began to remember more of her experience as she told her story  which may have contributed to this feeling of being a little removed from the story.

However, the story is fascinating.  Being Canadian, I think of the Vietnam War as an American war.  Growing up during the 70s, even in small town Alberta, there were many ‘boat people’ settling into our schools and communities but I didn't really know specific stories.  Film, TV, and media usually depicted the American situation.  I've seen footage of Vietnamese people desperately trying to get onto to aircraft as they were leaving Saigon.  I hadn't realized that Canada had much involvement.

A sequel has been published, One Step At a Time, that continues Tuyet’s story as she undergoes treatment for her foot and ankle.  I too will continue with Tuyet’s story.

Recommended for grades 3 to 8.


14 comments:

shelf-employed said...

Thanks for hosting today. I haven't seen The Last Airlift, but I'll look for it. We don't receive a lot of Canadian books in our library, but I enjoy reading books (and blogs) published in other countries. It sometimes offers a new perspective.

Jeff Barger said...

Thank you for hosting today! Last Airlift looks like an interesting read. It's the first book I have seen on this subject.

The Swimmer Writer said...

Thanks for hosting! This week I offer a picture book biography: SILENT STAR: THE STORY OF DEAF MAJOR LEAGUER WILLIAM HOY http://theswimmerwriter.blogspot.com/2013/02/silent-star.html

Abby said...

Thanks for hosting this week!

Marsha Skrypuch said...

Thanks for the fabulous review!!

Laurie Thompson said...

Thank you for hosting, Tammy! Today I'm including an author interview with Deborah Hopkinson about her upcoming picture book, KNIT YOUR BIT. The book is fiction, but based on the true facts surrounding the 1918 Knit-In in Central Park during World War I. Enjoy!

Redpeffer said...

Thank you for sharing this fascinating book and I'm excited to be part of this.

Jeanne Walker Harvey said...

Thanks for hosting today, Tammy! I enjoyed reading your review. It's always interesting to hear about the perspective of events from another country.

Perogyo said...

Thanks for hosting this week.

This looks very interesting. I am always interested in immigrant stories and this looks like a great one!

Janet S. said...

Thanks for hosting.
My selection is "How the dinosaur got to the museum" by Jessie Hartland.

Roberta said...

Fascinating find!

Thanks for hosting today.

Sondy said...

Thanks for hosting! I finally got BOMB read, so I'm posting my review of it.

Andromeda Jazmon Sibley said...

Thanks for the round up! I'm adding my post on Tuesday, a bit late. Now I am off to visit all the others...

Alicia said...

Better late than never, right? Thanks for hosting.

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