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Picture Book Review: Wishes by Muon Thi Von

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If you know anything about emigrating to the US, it can be a stressful unknown process. After the Vietnam War thousands of people made their way to the United States to start new lives. Wishes is a gorgeous view of emigration through the eyes of a little girl fleeing with only the things she can carry. Read on for a full picture book review of Wishes by Mượn Thị Văn.

wishes picture book review

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An arresting, poetic journey and a moving reflection on immigration, family, and home, from an acclaimed creative team.

Wishes tells the powerful, honest story about one Vietnamese family’s search for a new home on the other side of the world, and the long-lasting and powerful impact that makes on one of the youngest members of the family. Inspired by actual events in the author’s life, this is a narrative that is both timely and timeless. Told through the eyes of a young girl, the story chronicles a family’s difficult and powerful journey to pack up what they can carry and to leave their world behind, traveling to a new and unknown place in a crowded boat. With sparse, poetic, and lyrical text from acclaimed author Mượn Thị Văn, thoughtful back matter about the author’s connection to the story, and luminous, stunning illustrations from Forbes 30 Under 30 honoree Victo Ngai, Wishes tells a powerful and timely story in a gentle and approachable way for young children and their families.

wishes picture book review


Wishes is a gorgeous picture book that follows a family who leave their homeland in search of a better life.  As a resident of the Bay Area, I’ve heard stories similar to this before from the Vietnamese community.  The stories usually center on families who had to take only the things they could carry to start a new life in a far away place.  Wishes tells a similar story in using inanimate objects, for example: 

“The night wished it was quieter.

The bag wished it was deeper.

The light wished it was brighter…”

Wishes is simplistic and only about 75-ish words but really gorgeous in it’s prose, illustrations and message.   Victor Ngai illustrations use blacks and blues in a haunting way, almost creating a dreamlike setting to this family fleeing towards a better life.

Beautiful with an important message, Wishes is a must have books for ALL children 5-10.  

Rating: 5/5 stars


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