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
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
. 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 Toronto 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. Vietnam
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
, 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 Alberta Saigon. I hadn't realized that had much
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.