Thursday, January 14, 2016

Throwback Thursday: Angel Child, Dragon Child by Michele Maria Surat and Illustrated by Vo-Dinh Mai

 Angel Child, Dragon Child was published in 1983 and is based on a student Michele Maria Surat taught. "When a Vietnamese child with a tear-streaked face shared a photograph of her mother with 'Miss Teacher,' Ut's story began. Compelled to relate the tale of these beautiful and courageous children, the author hoped to create a story that would promote understanding between Vietnamese children and their American peers. . ."

This was the author's first book for children. Her story is complemented by the artwork of Vo-Dinh Mai who was born in Vietnam.

In this story, Ut's family has come to America, but they were unable to bring her mother with them because they didn't have enough money. The American children make fun of her clothing. Ut tries to be an Angel Child to honor her mother, but is it hard to be nice when others are hurtful.

She carries a picture or her mother and imagines her mother saying, "Do not be angry, my smallest daughter. Be my brave little Dragon."

One day in the snow, she gets into a fight with a boy. The principal breaks up their fight, marches them into the school, and orders Ut to tell the boy her story of Vietnam. He orders the boy, Raymond, to write her story. Raymond is very angry because he can't understand Vietnamese. He breaks the pencil in half and crumples the paper. When he begins to cry, Ut comforts him and gives him a cookie.

She talks to him in English, and they become friends. The principal reads Ut's story to the whole school, and Raymond suggests that they hold a fair to help raise money to bring her mother to America.

This story shows that when we reach out to each other, it is easy to become friends.

Our country has new immigrants coming all the time. They are leaving what they know and coming to a new place, a place of hope and new beginnings and also a place of worry and new fears. How will we welcome them?

Surat includes footnotes that explain how to say the Vietnamese words used in the story along with the definitions. This Reading Rainbow book is one we should all read.

Victor Frankl said there were two kinds of people: those who are decent and those who are indecent.

We are all one race - the human race.

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