Review of My Grandfather’s Song

My Grandfather’s Song My Grandfather’s Song
by Phùng Nguyên Quang and Huỳnh Kim Liên; illus. by the authors
Primary    Make Me a World/Random    40 pp.
10/23    9780593488614    $18.99
Library ed.  9780593488621    $21.99
e-book ed.  9780593488638    $10.99

At the beginning of the story, a grandson and grandfather stand with their palms pressed together, bowing in reverence to the jungle. Grandfather is hard at work building a new home, planting rice, and fishing, while his grandchild, Ti, wears a timid expression, distracted by the unknowns of the wild. When their boat is caught up in stormy waves, the grandfather imparts a lesson of harmony with nature. “‘My voice is so much smaller than the sky’s,’ I say. Grandfather places a hand on my shoulder. ‘But still the sky is singing. You do not have to shout down the storm. Find its rhythm; sing with it.’” Gentle prose recounts a family’s humble roots intertwined with an elder’s respect for nature to pass on to next generations; the narrative’s natural cadence with simple back-and-forth dialogue evokes oral traditions. Vivid illustrations of grandfather and grandson among lush landscapes reflect the cultural heritage and biodiversity unique to Vietnam. Appended notes provide additional details (“in tribute to the very first pioneers to the south of Vietnam”) and leave readers with a call to action to spark conversations with parents and grandparents and to consider the importance of conservation.

From the November/December 2023 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

Kristine Techavanich

Kristine Techavanich is a youth services librarian at the Timberland Regional Library System. She served on the 2023 Newbery committee.

Be the first reader to comment.

Comment Policy:
  • Be respectful, and do not attack the author, people mentioned in the article, or other commenters. Take on the idea, not the messenger.
  • Don't use obscene, profane, or vulgar language.
  • Stay on point. Comments that stray from the topic at hand may be deleted.
  • Comments may be republished in print, online, or other forms of media.
  • If you see something objectionable, please let us know. Once a comment has been flagged, a staff member will investigate.



We are currently offering this content for free. Sign up now to activate your personal profile, where you can save articles for future viewing.