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A Different Pond: Author Bao Phi’s 2018 BGHB Picture Book Honor Speech

I am so thankful to the Boston Globe–Horn Book Awards committee for this honor. A Different Pond started as a very simple idea: I wanted my daughter, and the various communities she is a part of, to have a children’s book that told a story about her grandparents’ generation of working-class Vietnamese refugees. I am beyond surprised and humbled at the book’s reception. And I got to collaborate with Thi Bui — an artist I have the utmost respect and admiration for. I want to thank all the folks at Capstone, who supported the journey of this book with their hard work and made the process so organic and so much fun for this rookie.

I have been reading books to my daughter since she was a baby, and I continue to read to her — or, increasingly, with her — every night. While there are more and more diverse books, stories, and characters every day, I still felt like something was missing. Though she is being raised in a progressive and multiracial environment, stories and issues that are specific to Asian Americans are still rare in her education. I wrote something specific, and I am surprised at — and am thankful for — the response it has received.

I would like to thank everyone in the Minnesota children’s book community for the amazing level of support they have given me, and the wonderful books they’ve written which I’ve enjoyed reading with my daughter. I’d like to thank the We Need Diverse Books movement, whose important work in encouraging change I have doubtlessly benefitted from. And last but certainly not least, much love to my family, by blood or by choice — those who have educated me, supported me, and encouraged me to grow.

At the end of the day, A Different Pond is just one book. It’s one story. I hope that there will be many more stories that children of all types, all over the world, can read and enjoy. To see themselves, to learn about people who are different from them — now, more than ever.

From the January/February 2019 issue of The Horn Book Magazine. Read A Different Pond illustrator Thi Bui’s speech here. For more on the 2018 Boston Globe–Horn Book Awards, click on the tag BGHB18.

Bao Phi About Bao Phi

Bao Phi is author of the 2018 Boston Globe–Horn Book Picture Book Honor Book A Different Pond.

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