We all come from somewhere.
Whether our ancestors crossed the ocean in a merchant ship or slipped over the border under cover of darkness, almost all of us can trace our roots back to a time where our family lived somewhere else.
Bao Phi beautifully portrays what it means to come from somewhere else in his book A Different Pond. Perfectly paired with pictures from cartoonist and accomplished illustrator Thi Bui, A Different Pond shares what it means to leave your home in search of a better life. But it's far more than just that.
A 2018 Caldecott Winner, this book follows a Vietnamese boy and his father into the early morning hours as the fish for food. Simple prose and the gentle, yet confident, voice of the boy move the story along.
What most touched me about the tale is the poignancy of two aspects of what it means to live in a foreign place: 1.) often the reasons people come to America involve tragedy to traumatic to articulate, and 2.) most middle-class Americans view the plight of immigrants through a narrow lens and fail to appreciate the unbelievable tenacity and perseverance these individuals possess.
In the way that only exceptional pictures books can, Phi artfully unveils each of these issues. Tackling the divisive issue of immigration in our country today with children feels virtually impossible. However, A Different Pond removes the generalities of the debate by inviting the reader into the daily life of one human being, who just happens to come from a different country, and allows children a brief glimpse into the humanity of immigration.
I loved this book. It's gentle similes and quiet metaphors. I don't want to get political here - that's not in line with the focus of the blog - but I do want to say that turning a blind eye to immigration just because it might not directly affect our lives is no longer an option.
This book provides an unobtrusive way to begin a dialogue about this issue; it welcomes readers to think about their own way of life, what must be left behind, and what promises are yet to come.