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Adrift at Sea: A Vietnamese Boy's Story of Survival
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Adrift at Sea: A Vietnamese Boy's Story of Survival

4.26  ·  Rating details ·  116 ratings  ·  40 reviews
It is 1981. In the middle of the Pacific Ocean, a fishing boat overloaded with 60 Vietnamese refugees drifts. The motor has failed; the hull is leaking; the drinking water is nearly gone. This is the dramatic true story recounted by Tuan Ho, who was six years old when he, his mother, and two sisters dodged the bullets of Vietnam's military police for the perilous chance of ...more
Hardcover, 40 pages
Published September 22nd 2016 by Pajama Press
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Feb 03, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: children-s-books
I love immigrant stories probably because I grew up in an immigrant family. Adrift At Sea is about Tuan Ho's escape from Vietnam when he was a boy of six. The story is told through the eyes of Tuan and we feel for him as he experiences fear, a family torn apart and days adrift at sea with little drinking water. The story has a positive ending, of course, but it brings to life what thousands of Vietnamese people went through in the early 1980s when they tried to escape.

My 12 year-old son read thi
Krista the Krazy Kataloguer
Skrypuch based this story on the real escape of a Vietnamese boy and his family from Vietnam in the 1980s. Back then you heard about the "boat people" on the news, but you really didn't know what they suffered to get away. This book makes it clear. I teared up at the end, when Tuan finally gets the glass of milk he's so thirsty for, and the American sailors are so friendly and kind to him. I love that fact that Skrypuch includes pictures of the actual family, especially the ones at the end where ...more
Gary Anderson
Jul 20, 2017 rated it really liked it
Adrift at Sea is the true story of Tuan Ho, a young Vietnamese boy who escaped his country’s military regime in 1981 and became part of the wave of “boat people,” refugees hoping to arrive in America. As author Marsha Forchuk Skrypuch relates how Tuan and members of his family survived their escape and a flimsy boat with a motor that eventually dies, she keeps the drama intact without crossing the line into being terrifying. My only quibble with the text is the awkward present-tense construction ...more
Alex (not a dude) Baugh
The plight of refugees have been in the news a lot these days because of the war in Syria. As more and more borders are closed to them, it might be a good time to remember another group of refugees who arrived on North America's shores and have contributed so much to their adopted country.

When the Vietnam War ended in 1975, and the communist government took over South Vietnam, daily life became so difficult and unbearable that families were willing to risk escaping their country in rickety boats
I remember teaching in New Orleans back when the so-called "Vietnamese boat people" arrived in our city, and some of my students had somehow managed to survive that horrendous ordeal. There were no books for children about the experience; nor, to my knowledge, have there been any published until this one. Based on Tuan Ho's actual ordeal when he was only six, this book will touch the hearts of all refugees while also providing readers unfamiliar with what happened at the end of the Vietnam War s ...more
Holy sh*t.

At my elementary school in the 1970s, there were two families of "boat people" as we rather callously called them. My husband worked with a man who remembers being boarded by pirates and robbed of all possessions during his family's ordeal. Another friend's husband isn't clear as to how old he is, and his family was going through such a long journey through various countries' refugee camps during the time he was born and his birth went unrecorded. So it's not like this story was a sur
Nov 04, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-alouds
A moving story of a young Vietnamese boy and his family risking everything to escape the horrors of their home in search of a better life. First they must endure the hardships of the ocean with limited water, a hot blazing sun and a leaking boat with 60 people in it. This refugee story is brilliantly illustrated in a gentle way for its young readers.
Jan 25, 2017 rated it it was amazing
A captivating story. I loved the historical synopsis and photos at the end. Beautifully illustrated. Thanks for the copy of the book, sis!
Considering all that we know of recent escapes from homelands in the middle east, this book reminds us that there was another time of escape for survival. That time was years ago when many Vietnamese were forced to leave their homes and country because they were no longer safe when Communists took over the whole country. The sole way of leaving was to escape at night, under cover of darkness and eventually by boat. This picture book, while brief, shows exactly what happened to Tuan Ho and his i ...more
Ben Truong
Jun 19, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Adrift at Sea: A Vietnamese Boy's Story of Survival is a children's picture book written by Marsha Forchuck Skrypuch with Tuan Ho and illustrated by Brian Deines, which tells the real life story of Tuan Ho and how he and sixty others escaped Communist Vietnam in a boat, hoping for a better future in the Western World.

Skrypuch's text is rather simple, straightforward and rather poignant. It's a story about a six-year old Vietnamese boy named Tuan that escapes communist Vietnam with family and boa
Valerie Sherrard
Apr 14, 2017 rated it it was amazing
A beautifully told story, Skrypuch perfectly captures the emotions and experiences of the Vietnamese refugees who fled their homes and braved great perils in the hope for a better life. Accompanied by the gorgeous illustrations of Brian Deines, this important story from the past is particularly germane in current world events. Every school child should read Adrift at Sea.
Brandi Stevens
Dec 11, 2017 rated it really liked it
No AR yet.
A young boy named Tuan and his family are trying to escape Vietnam during the Vietnam War. There are many ups and downs and a four day boat journey turns into six. When all hope seems to be lost, an American aircraft carrier come to their rescue, taking on board sixty Vietnamese refugees.
At first, I wasn't sure what was going on until I saw the American military ship and read the information section at the end of the book. It's filled with good information for kids and it's fascinatin
Debbie Tanner
This is a picture book for big kids! It's a beautifully illustrated story of a Vietnamese boy's harrowing journey during the Vietnam War.
Edward Sullivan
The harrowing true story of a refugee family fleeing Vietnam in 1981, a few of the many thousands of "Boat People" who fled the country in the years following the fall of Saigon.
Apr 22, 2017 rated it really liked it
A useful introduction to a difficult topic - suspense, hope and relief.
Illustrations done in oil have soft edges and muted colors, conveying the mood of moving in darkness and trying not to be discovered.
Photos of the family will help youngsters feel the reality of this event.
Cara Byrne
Apr 18, 2017 rated it really liked it
This is one of the most intense refugee stories in picture book form in the genre of children's literature, especially with an early scene where the Tuan, a young boy, is almost shot and another scene where he witnesses a boat on fire. It's well-written and provides a little known history that connects well to contemporary refugee crises.
Mrs. Ruigrok
This is an excellent story about Tuan Ho coming to Canada from Vietnam as a young boy. The challenges and risks that his family had to take to get here and to escape their life. This book has photos of Tuan Ho and his family, as well as beautiful illustrations throughout the book.
Cheriee Weichel
Apr 15, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
I've been wanting to read this book since I first read about it. I've read other accounts of Vietnamese people's horrific escape from Vietnam, and across my teaching career, I've taught their children and grandchildren.
Brian Deines illustrations are gorgeous. Skrypuch and Ho's story is compelling and frightening. I especially appreciate the photographs and additional information about Ho's family in the backmatter.
Annie Do
Mar 22, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This book talked about Vietnamese immigrants and their journey through the sea, immigrating as "boat people" to seek refuge in other countries. The story focuses on a boy named Tuan and how his journey escaping Vietnam on a boat was like. The story ended with a good ending as American sailors found Tuan, his family, and the other people that were on the boat, and rescued them from the sea. The illustrations of this book were colorful and bright, depicting characters that were free of stereotyped ...more
Meredith Kaupp
May 25, 2018 rated it it was amazing
An amazing look at what it was like for children.and families who escaped from Vietnam.
This beautiful nonfiction picture book tells a powerful story of survival and the harrowing experience of a group of Vietnamese refugees. In 1981, Tuan's family was desperate to escape the horrible conditions imposed on them by the government of their country. Running through gunfire to escape in a leaky fishing boat not meant for long sea journeys, they wound up adrift with little drinking water and the danger of not surviving. Tuan Ho's account of his family's perilous trip, along with beautif ...more
Dec 21, 2018 rated it it was amazing
An impactful and discussion-worthy book to use with students. Once again, Skrypuch has taken the challenging complexities of war and escape, and presented it in an accessible and meaningful way. My students found the family's story both fascinating and incredibly sad, heightened by the fact that the title is about real people.
A highly recommended read for students in grades 2 or 3 and above.
Picture book memoir of a Vietnamese boat refugee, from sneaking out in the dark to a beach under gunfire, then fear and thirst when the engines fail, and then the relief of being rescued by the American navy. The afterwards gives details on the boy's future in Canada.

I would have wanted more context -- why were they running? When is this? But the book is written from the boy's memories, and obviously at five he wasn't in on this. The art is delicate and evocative; this would be a good picture bo
For Professional Support of Diverse Literature
Feb 12, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: memoir, non-fiction
Deeply moving, haunting, and hard to believe this took place in 1981. 1981 feels like a moment ago to me.
Mar 04, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I don't usually include picture books here on Goodreads, but this is one I hope people will find. It goes with Stepping Stones, Four Feet Two Sandals, My Name is Sangoel, Gleam and Glow, Oskar's Eight Blessings, The Journey and so many others.

This is a specific family's story. It it full of difficult choices and dangerous moments. It also has a happy ending - but it supports the conversation that that element is not a given for all people who find themselves in this dilemma. The book starts wit
Laura Bowman
Aug 31, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Adrift at Sea is the true story of Tuan Ho who fled Vietnam with his mother and sister when he was only 6 years old. Their boat, with 60 people crammed aboard, sprung a leak and was adrift in the Indian Ocean for days before an American Aircraft Carrier crosses their path and saves Tuan and his family.
This picture book is one of a kind. First of all, it is absolutely stunning. Brian Deines' illustrations are simply mesmerizing, and I know I will catch myself flipping through this book just to ad
Paula Hollohan
Mar 03, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This story would be great to share with students because of the similarities they will see to today's influx of Syrian refugees. The lovely art by Brian Deines shows the amazing real life escape of one part of one family. The story echoed by Marsha Forchuk Skrypuch for Tuan Ho is powerful and filled with the quiet resilience necessary to complete the journey. Grades 4-9.
Sandra Olshaski
Oct 08, 2016 rated it really liked it
I was deeply touched by this beautiful true story of a family's survival in the face of overwhelming odds as they leave Vietnam in search of a new life in the West. Sixty Vietnamese refugees, among whom is six-year-old Tuan Ho and his family, endure days at sea as the motor of the fishing boat fails, the hull is leaking, drinking water is depleted, and the merciless sun beats down upon them, They are finally rescued by an American aircraft carrier and eventually reach Canada.

I loved the "before"
Feb 09, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: kids, diversebooks
I love the increasing number of nonfiction picture books that is being published! This particular title is an example of rich storytelling -- told through the perspective of a six-year-old, the reader cannot help but feel the fear and urgency that Tuan experiences as he flees with his family -- supplemented with concise historical notes and photographs.

This book would make an excellent classroom read for Grades 1+ (there are some very tense and somewhat haunting scenes -- such as when they see
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Marsha has received numerous awards and honours for her picture books and young adult novels, including a nomination for the Canadian Library Association Book of the Year in 2007. Marsha has penned the bestselling Dear Canada book, Prisoners in the Promised Land.

In 2008, Marsha was awarded the Order of Princess Olha by the Ukranian President, in recognition of her story, Enough, which described th