March 25, 2021


My First Day by Phùng Nguyên Quang and Huỳnh Kim Liên tells one Vietnamese child's story of going to school.

An's journey isn't like many other children's since An lives in the Mekong Delta and has to pilot a small wooden boat to school every day. An has to ride across floodwaters to get to school, and today is the first time he's making the trip on his own. An is up with the sun as he waits for the tide to bring his boat closer to him, and he encounters everything from swelling waves to heavy rainfall during his trek, all of which remind him of the biggest adventure still to come: his first day of school!

The digital illustrations are rendered in natural earth tones, including shades of blue, green, and brown, and Liên really gets a chance to shine with heavily-detailed illustrations that take up whole spreads and stretch beyond the boundaries of the page. Alternately using deep shadows and bright streaks of light during key emotional moments, Liên conveys a wide range of tones and emotions that perfectly accompany Quang's sparse, lyrical text.

My First Day published last month from Make Me a World.

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