July 29, 2021


Wishes by Mượn Thị Văn and Victo Ngai is a powerful and succinct look at one family's harrowing and emotional journey from Vietnam to Hong Kong.

Inspired by real events in author Văn's life, the story focuses on a young girl's escape from Vietnam with her family. Though the illustrated story is told through the eyes of a young girl, the textual narrative is told through the "eyes" of inanimate objects around the family, all of them wishing for the family's safe journey: the night wishes it were quieter, the home wishes it were closer, the heart wishes it were stronger. Luckily, the girl's refugee boat is rescued by a Hong Kong coast guard before the girl, herself, has to make any wishes of her own.

Illustrator Ngai's note at the end of the book reveals a lot about the process behind creating the illustrations. She made a conscious effort to avoid using bright colors and referenced old photos from her own family to create the characters. There is a very subtle transition from nighttime to daytime over the course of the story, mirroring the story's arc from shadowy and uncertain times to seeing a light at the end of the tunnel. Ngai's background in animation shines through specifically when it comes to movement, with a strong sense of energy and dynamism on each spread.

Wishes published earlier this summer from Orchard Books.

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