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The Magic Fish

4.62  ·  Rating details ·  312 ratings  ·  143 reviews
Tiến loves his family and his friends…but Tiến has a secret he's been keeping from them, and it might change everything. An amazing YA graphic novel that deals with the complexity of family and how stories can bring us together.

Real life isn't a fairytale.

But Tiến still enjoys reading his favorite stories with his parents from the books he borrows from the local library. I
Hardcover, 256 pages
Published October 13th 2020 by Random House Graphic
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Average rating 4.62  · 
Rating details
 ·  312 ratings  ·  143 reviews

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Sep 11, 2020 rated it it was amazing
"Joy is a precious thing. And precious things are few. So we learn to hold on to them."

This was the most amazing graphic novel. It's a fairytale retelling, a coming out story, a story about immigration and communication and love.

Tiến is 13, has a crush on his best friend Julian, and loves to read fairytales with his mother. In school we see him spend time with his friends, battling his teachers’ homophobia and going to school dances. Back home we see the tender relationship between Tiến and his
Mar 07, 2020 marked it as to-read
Shelves: 2020-releases
*cries in queer vietnamese*
anna (½ of readsrainbow)
rep: Vietnamese-American gay mc, Vietnamese mc, Vietnamese characters, sapphic characters
tw: cannibalism, off page death, on page death, murder, blood, homophobia

so lovely & beautiful!!

Gosh, this book tackled so much, especially for a graphic novel— and it pulled it off so well. You don’t find many YA stories that deeply examine the adult characters as well as the teens, so this was a breath of fresh air. I really felt for Tien and his mother and their personal struggles; the fact that they connect with one another over library books/Vietnamese fairytales is so heartwarming. The fairytales were also interesting, and I loved the parallels between them and the real world struggl ...more
✨Brithanie Faith✨
4.5/5 stars ⭐⭐⭐⭐.5

e-ARC provided by NetGalley and the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Remind me why I don't read graphic novels/comics more often! For such a short novel, this covered quite a bit. The artwork was absolutely breathtaking and the fairy tales that were woven into the story held their own little valuable life lessons.

If you're thinking of picking this one up, prepare to have your heart stolen! I can see The Magic Fish becoming a fast favourite of many in the years to co
laurel [the suspected bibliophile]
I absolutely loved this story, and the author's note at the end was brilliant. This is on the level of The Princess and the Dressmaker. The artwork is phenomenal! And that ending!

It's so beautiful, and I loved how the stories woven and changed depending on who was telling the story, and how everyone's histories wove together. This is a book about finding a new life, grief, regret, love and family. And the magic of fairy tales to bring people together and connect.

I received this ARC from NetGalle
Aug 11, 2020 rated it it was amazing
My official review: "THE MAGIC FISH wistfully explores the way stories and people cross oceans to find new lives, told with breathtaking, dreamlike artwork. I highly recommend!"
Melanie Gillman
May 11, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This was so sweet and touching! I thoroughly enjoyed it and I hope a copy makes its way into every library.
Oct 14, 2020 rated it it was amazing
What a stunning story! It took me a bit to get into the style, but it grew on me more and more — by the end my eyes definitely felt watery! Such a beautiful, rich tale — especially with all of the notes from the author at the end. A new fave graphic novel -- 4.5 stars!
Oct 18, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Stunning. Beautiful. Unputdownable.
Jill Kenna
Sep 11, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This book was amazing. I loved the stories that Tien and his mother tell each other. The relationships that are explored are great. The artwork is fantastic. Everything about this book was just flawless. I really could find no fault with it as I was reading. I would highly recommend this to anyone, it was perfect.
Cass Moskowitz
Jan 30, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Oooooh boy. I have been following this artist for a while, and I'm so happy that this book exists. Weaving a current story with one from the past, using fairytales as the thread, this book is powerful and enchanting. I cried a little reading it and I have a list of people to hand it to come October. Truly an incredible read.
Haley Renee The Caffeinated Reader
Such gorgeous artwork and the weaving of fairytales with the modern one was just stunning, not just visually but with the words as well.

Tiến has no idea where to start on coming out, he's 13, there's a dance coming up, and he's helping his mom and dad on their English, using fairytales, and of course, there are dances in those too. The art is purely whimsical and once more beautiful.

It's a lovely story and the connection Tiến has with his friends and family is great. Perfect read, I'll be gettin
Christine (Padfoot's Library)
Sep 01, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: kids-lit
This book definitely tugged at my heart strings - as a Vietnamese Canadian, this reminded me of my own childhood when I would share what I was reading with my own mom, and how she would tell me that there was a story similar in her own upbringing within a Vietnamese context. The idea that we in a way share the same stories regardless of generation, language barrier, and cultural context is extremely special.

The story follows Tiên who borrows books from his library and reads them to his mom and
Meredith Ann
A beautiful story about family, coming out, and immigration, with different fairy tales weaved throughout. The art is incredible. There's so much heart and honesty in this, it's like nothing I've read before. Highly, highly recommended.
Jul 18, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Full of gorgeous, detailed artwork and thoughtful dialogue, The Magic Fish is a touching story about communication, immigration and coming out.

Different tellings of fairytales interweave with a mother and son’s stories. Tiến and his parents read library books out loud to each other not only for the shared experience but so that his parents can practice English. With them struggling with their English and Tiến not sure if there are Vietnamese words for what he is going through, he and his mother
Jul 27, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I received this book to review as an ARC on Netgalley.

Wow. This was stunning. I recently heard Trung speak a little about the intentions and process of this graphic novel during a queer Comic Con @ home panel. Trung beautifully uses color to express the power of stories, history, and emotion. The illustrations are simplistic and complex at the same time. Rarely have I read a YA book, especially a graphic novel, that follows both the teen and the parent's perspectives. This book beautifully illus
Sep 12, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Wow! This is only Trung Le Nguyen's first full-length graphic novel? How??? It's so masterfully constructed, laid out, and illustrated, and the colors are amazing. I've never read anything quite like this and it was a wonderful experience.

Nguyen takes his parents' immigration experiences and his own experience as a child of immigrants in America and weaves them through three different fairy tale stories plus a modern-day account of the main character's life as the son of immigrants in America. I
Sep 23, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Woah. This comic tackled so much in so few pages, and pulled it off beautifully. The main character, Tien, is a Vietnamese kid with a crush on his friend. Interspersed between his troubles and conflicts as a kid exploring what it means to be queer are modern/different takes on fairy tales told between Tien and his mom. The fairy tales are twists on traditional tales (Cinderella, Little Mermaid), but are told with gorgeous visuals and parallels to Tien's life. The color palette of the panels chan ...more
Aug 10, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I was lucky enough to receive an arc copy of this from Netgalley.

I absolutely loved this graphic novel. From the first page the art style blew me away. The author did a beautiful job of interweaving fairy tales with a contemporary setting. One of my favorite parts was how there was a different color scheme for past, present, and fairy tale parts.

I felt like this story did an incredible job at showing just how hard it can be to communicate hard topics to loved ones when there is an added languag
Mel Staten
Oct 19, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I'm in awe.

I've been following Trungles (as I affectionately think of him from his Twitter handle) for years and was beyond hyped when his first graphic novel was announced. I knew it would be good, but the amount of anticipation made me worry that it couldn't live up to my expectations. I was so, so wrong.

This graphic novel weaves together two real life stories using three fairy tales, creating a gorgeous tapestry of language and story intricately woven down to the finest details. Each outfit
Sarah Schanze
I've been following Trungles for years, and I was ecstatic when I learned he was making his own graphic novel. I wondered how his delicate and detailed standalone illustrations would translate to a comic, and they did just what they were supposed to do: make me feel like I was reading a fairy tale anthology. But it was more than that. The way the three stories wove together with the modern day characters was expertly and subtly done, with layers of emotion and meaning . The art is breathtaking a ...more
Jul 16, 2020 rated it really liked it
#TheMagicFish was a sweet graphic novel of a young boy trying to find the words to explain to his mother that he is gay. Because he does not have the words in Vietnamese, they tell stories. This graphic novel beautifully intertwines several layers--some based in fairy tale, some based in family history, some based in retellings and adaptations of other stories, and more. The artwork for each story has a different style that adds additional layers to the story. Thank you to the publisher and #Net ...more
Oct 09, 2020 rated it it was amazing
(Disclaimer: I received this book from Netgalley. This has not impacted my review which is unbiased and honest.)

Where do I start with how much I loved The Magic Fish? Let me begin by saying that I adored not only the drawing style of Nguyen, but also the color palette in the entire graphic novel. The different color panels, for the stories versus the POVs made it both easier to understand, but also a beautiful tableau of colors. The illustrations were phenomenal, both whimsical and magical, wh
Jun 17, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: arcs
This is a gorgeous graphic novel about a young boy named Tién who is struggling to bridge the gap between English and Vietnamese in order to come out to his family. His story is interwoven with traditional fairy tales, and real life and fantasy take lessons from one another, illustrating the power that stories can have.
Jul 13, 2020 rated it really liked it
I loved the artwork and the blend of fairy tales with Tien’s real life troubles including the death of his grandmother in Vietnam, his mother’s grief, and his own struggle of coming out to his family.

Very relatable but also brings the trauma of Vietnam and the sacrifices those who immigrated had to make. A story of the continued stigma of being Queer and out. A story of friendship and family.
Amy Pickett
Sep 04, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-in-2020
This coming-of-age graphic novel braids together a young man's desire to come out to his parents, their family's immigration story, retellings of several classic fairy tales that Tien and his mother read to each other, and truly exquisite artwork. That little twist at the end completely stole my heart!
amy boese
Sep 10, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: ya-awesome, glbtqi, 2020
I wish I could give this more stars. A tender, layered, and nuanced story that is also a *delight* for the eyes. I had been looking forward to reading this, and couldn't quite put together the snippets of art Trung Le Nguyen had put out on social media. Was this a story about Family? A Fairy tale? Historical Fiction? Yes, and more.
Sep 10, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I received an ARC through NetGalley.

I loved how the fairytales tied in with the present day story. This book was sweet, emotional, and a touch whimsical. I enjoyed it.

I’m picky about the art in graphic novels, and this book was beautiful. I love fairytales in general, so it was no surprise that these illustrations were my favorite.
Note: I received a digital review copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley.
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Trungles (Trung Le Nguyen) is a comic book artist and illustrator working out of Minnesota. He received his BA from Hamline University in 2012, Majoring in Studio Art with a concentration in oil painting and Minoring in Art History. He has contributed work for Oni Press, Boom! Studios, Limerence Press, and Image Comics. He is particularly fond of fairy tales, kids' cartoons, and rom-coms of all st ...more

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