Jump to ratings and reviews
Rate this book

The Paper Boat: A Refugee Story

Rate this book
In The Paper Boat, Thao’s signature collage art tells the wordless story of one family’s escape from Vietnam―a journey intertwined with an ant colony’s parallel narrative.

At her home in Vietnam, a girl rescues ants from the sugar water set out to trap them. Later, when the girl’s family flees war-torn Vietnam, ants lead them through the moonlit jungle to the boat that will take them to safety. Before boarding, the girl folds a paper boat from a bun wrapper and drops it into the water, and the ants climb on. Their perilous journey, besieged by punishing weather, predatory birds, and dehydration, before reaching a new beginning, mirrors the family’s own.

Impressionistic collages and a moving, Own Voices narrative make this a one-of-a-kind tale of courage, resilience, and hope.

40 pages, Hardcover

Published September 15, 2020

Loading interface...
Loading interface...

About the author

Thao Lam

12 books24 followers
Thao Lam has been creating pictures for as long as she can remember. For her, drawing has always felt as natural as breathing. She has an insatiable love for coloured and textured papers, which she uses to create her exuberant collages.

Passionate about children’s books, Thao is especially interested in visual storytelling. She draws inspiration from the stories she hears, from the beauty in everyday things, and from the work of the many illustrators she admires. As an art buyer for an educational publishing company, she has the opportunity to work with thousands of different artists from all around the world.

Since studying illustration for three years at Sheridan College in Toronto, Thao has developed her dual careers of illustrating and art buying. Her art works have appeared in publications such as Cricket and Highlight magazines. In 2008, she won the Highlights Five Pewter Plate award for verse illustration of the year. She has twice been chosen for the American Illustration Awards.

Ratings & Reviews

What do you think?
Rate this book

Friends & Following

Create a free account to discover what your friends think of this book!

Community Reviews

5 stars
206 (31%)
4 stars
260 (39%)
3 stars
157 (24%)
2 stars
26 (3%)
1 star
5 (<1%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 219 reviews
Profile Image for La Coccinelle.
2,251 reviews3,563 followers
July 8, 2020
I thought I would like this one more than I did. I think I was thrown by the narrative with the ants; you really only get the significance of that after you read the author's note.

This is a wordless picture book, illustrated with cut-paper collage, that details the escape and journey of a family of refugees fleeing Vietnam in the 1970s. The story is easy enough to follow... up to a point. After the little girl drops a piece of paper, the ants climb on and go on their own journey... which involves vicious seagulls and a lot of drowning. I guess the idea was to use the ants instead of people for the more graphic aspects of the story. But it's still pretty dark.

The book doesn't really work without a reading of the author's note at the end, which I'm not crazy about; I think picture books should be able to get their message across without too much explanation.

The collages are okay, but I'm not really a fan of the spare style. The bleakness of some of the panels works, given the subject matter, but I didn't think there was enough of a contrast (at least colour-wise) between the panels that depicted the refugees' flight and the ones that showed them safe in their new home.

Overall, this is a decent refugee story, and would probably work best in a classroom setting where more discussion about the topic can follow. I'm not sure if kids would get a lot out of it if they just flipped through it on their own (especially if they didn't bother reading the author's note at the end).

Thank you to NetGalley and Owlkids Books for providing a digital ARC.
Profile Image for WillowRaven.
183 reviews91 followers
October 28, 2020
This book is a wonderful picture story-book that tells the story of the author's family and the comparative story of a family of ants that she rescues and then "builds" a paper boat for them. On closer inspection, you note that the newspaper used for the boat highlights different aspects of the Vietnam war, especially the plight of the hundreds of thousands of refugees who had fled the destruction for a better, safer way of life. In the narrative that shows up later in the book, and in the only area where words are found, the author describes how her family - including her mother who was 3 months pregnant with her sister - managed to escape and eventually end up in Malaysia, and then, ultimately, Canada. As I read her story, I could picture the images from the start of the book, including the ants and their travels on the water, and how both set of lives were intertwined.

I found the images, while fairly simple, were beautifully done, and matched up well with the story. They didn't take over the important message; instead, they acted as stunning displays of the resiliency of the spirit (human and otherwise).

I *will* say, that seeing this book in digital format (Kindle) was not really the best as the images and pages were "torn apart" and everything had to be sort of mentally "pieced together". I would highly recommend the actual print/physical book to be able to fully appreciate everything this grand story has to offer.

In closing I would like to thank both the author and NetGalley for the opportunity to view this amazing and inspirational children's picture book. I thoroughly enjoyed it.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Skip.
3,351 reviews414 followers
November 16, 2020
A true story, intended for children, about a family's escape from war-torn Vietnam. While the illustrations were good, the lack of words caused the story to flounder. It was literally impossible for an adult to understand what the ants meant so a child could not. If not for the author's note, I still would have no idea what they symbolized.
Profile Image for Rebeca.
201 reviews213 followers
September 23, 2020
I must admit, I don’t think that I’ve ever read a book about refugees. This children’s picture book is so heartfelt without even using words.

I love her comparison of ants and refugees and how sometimes they have to uproot their lives and those of their families when the colonies are threatened.

Very good book for kids and adults of all ages.

Thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review!
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Alex  Baugh.
1,954 reviews109 followers
November 23, 2020
In this wordless picture book, a young girl and her mother are forced to flee their country (Vietnam) because of war. As the family is eating a meal, the young girl rescues ants which the adults are swatting at. Later, when she and her mother leave their home, they are accompanied by the rescued ants. Mother and daughter must first hide from the officers hunting down refugees. Eventually, the ants lead them to where they must wait for a boat to take them away. The story switches to the ants sailing away in a paper boat at this point. Their journey is filled with hardships - a too hot sun beating down on them, thirst, seagulls overhead attacking and looking for food, an ant that drowns, and a thunderstorm that destroys their boat, sending all the ants into the water. Eventually they find land and are met with many more refugee ants. The story switches back to the girl and her family now living in safety in what looks like an city full of refugees from other parts of the world. Lam uses the ants to represent the difficult journey made by the mother and child. Lam's cut paper collages and the wordlessness of the story really capture the danger faced by many refugees when they are forced to leave their family and their home. She used simple colors - orange, pink, blue, and black to create these emotional illustrations. This is a story of bravery and hope despite hardship.
Profile Image for Villain E.
2,951 reviews9 followers
October 1, 2022
Beautiful art. The wordless story will require some explanation.

A family escapes from Vietcong-controlled Vietnam. This is parelleled by a group of ants which climb onto a paper boat.
Profile Image for Meisha (ALittleReader).
225 reviews57 followers
October 8, 2020
I think that having books like this is so important. Especially to teach the younger generation about these important topics and issues in world history. That being said though, I’m an adult and still struggled to grasp what was going on. And given that this is meant for a child, I don’t think they’d understand either unless they have previous knowledge on the topic... I think it really would have helped to have added text to this. It’s important for kids to learn and it helps to have the things they might not yet understand, explained. But I’m still glad a short little book like this is out there in the world!
Thank you so much for the ARC, Owlkids!
Profile Image for Lara Maynard.
373 reviews149 followers
July 16, 2020
This is the second wordless picture book that I’ve reviewed in the last couple of weeks. Is this an emerging trend in picture books?

Although I love the quietness of the collage art illustrations and the story, I am not convinced that a young reader will be able to follow it without words or an understanding of the historical context of the story of a young girl and her family fleeing Vietnam. The author’s note at the end of the book provides background, but by then the reader might already have already lost interest. And while I love the story of the inclusion of the ants in the book and the way that Thao Lam compares them to refugees, having to move and rebuild their colonies, again I wonder if that will be able to grasp that as the book unfolds.

As an adult, I think this is a beautiful and poignant picture book. It’s like a short, wordless graphic novel or novella. And the illustrations and design make lovely use of white space and perspective. But if the intended audience is children, then I am not sure that it works. So I withhold my full judgement until I have an opportunity to see how children interact with The Paper Boat.

I read a digital proof of The Paper Boat: A Refugee Story via NetGalley and the publisher, Owlkids Books.
Profile Image for Priya.
1,512 reviews37 followers
December 8, 2020
Such a poignant correlation between the colony of ants and the human family escaping a dire situation to build a new life in a new place.
The child rescues the ants who then lead her to safety and the escape boat.
The value of being kind is beautifully illustrated as is the fact that the life of other creatures is a microcosm of our own.
Profile Image for Sarah Marie.
1,897 reviews233 followers
February 1, 2021
The Paper Boat: A Refugee Story by Thao Lam

4 stars

This was a quick illustrated reading experience. There is no dialogue, but I loved the author's comparison of refugees to ants. I thought it was a beautiful and harrowing comparison and expertly crafted. I saw that a few people didn't catch on to that until the author's note, but I immediately put two and two when I saw the ants in the paper boat traveling. I thought this was a brilliant idea. However, I'm not sure it translates for a children, which is the targeted audience because the comparison is more adult. I think if you are willing to have in depth discussions about the connections then a kid could get something from this. Thinking back, if you handed this to me as a young reader I wouldn't have cared about or reread it. There has to something intentional with the book and conversations for this one to work and be effective.

Art Scale: 4

Plotastic Scale: 4

Cover Thoughts: I really like the cover, but it doesn't stand out.

Thank you, Netgalley and Owlkids Books, for providing me with a copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review.
Profile Image for Laura.
2,768 reviews82 followers
May 18, 2020
In this story, based on the author's family's escape from Vietnam at the end of the war, we learn how ants played a part in their survival.

This is a wordless picture book, and the author explains at the end how refugees are much like ants, and how when they escape a disaster they go to their new home and rebuild.

A very simple, yet powerful book. A good way to teach about the journey that refugees have to endure.

Thanks to Netgalley for making this book available for an honest review.
Profile Image for Seema Rao.
Author 2 books47 followers
June 22, 2020
An exceptional book. The illustrations are so well done, and the narrative, even textless as it is, is clearly drawn. It tells a very challenging story for young people but really is great for all ages. I cannot wait to own this book.

Thanks to NetGalley for an arc in exchange for an honest review.
Profile Image for AMY.
2,474 reviews
March 24, 2021
This is a wordless book with a profound message about how a refugee manages to escape during the Vietnam War and start a new life in a new country. Be sure to read the author's note and all will be explained if the pictures did not make sense. It is a beautiful book with a strong message. Highly recommended for Grades K-5.
Profile Image for Lolly K Dandeneau.
1,866 reviews239 followers
September 16, 2020
via my blog: https://bookstalkerblog.wordpress.com/
𝐀 𝐥𝐢𝐭𝐭𝐥𝐞 𝐠𝐢𝐫𝐥 𝐚���𝐝 𝐚𝐧𝐭𝐬 𝐬𝐡𝐚𝐫𝐞 𝐚 𝐩𝐞𝐫𝐢𝐥𝐨𝐮𝐬 𝐣𝐨𝐮𝐫𝐧𝐞𝐲 𝐞𝐬𝐜𝐚𝐩𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐰𝐚𝐫-𝐭𝐨𝐫𝐧 𝐕𝐢𝐞𝐭𝐧𝐚𝐦.

𝘛𝘩𝘦 𝘗𝘢𝘱𝘦𝘳 𝘉𝘰𝘢𝘵 is a refugee story using Lam’s signature collage art. It’s a story without words, genre ‘wordless narrative’ that allows the child and parent to experience the menacing experience of escape. As the story begins a Vietnamese little girl saves ants from a sugar water trap using a chopstick. It puts a smile on her face, but through the pages her family wear only worry on their own. Looming outside the window of their home war-tanks can be seen with the infamous Communist star on it’s side. Troops are marching, there is a war raging outside and they must use all their money and jewelry to escape. They have a small boat, not much different than the one the little girl folds for the ants she has rescued, they too will set off on the waters and their own dangerous journey. The brutal sun, illness, exhaustion, threats from the sky like deadly seabirds who want to eat them, near drowning, vicious storms and scores of ants clustered together, much like the author’s own family went through.

Once they are safe and on land, have a place to stay in a city and food to eat there is another family member, a newborn as the mother in the story was pregnant on the journey. Now they are in a place where many cultures blend, as evidenced from the artwork and different styles of dress. They are alive, no longer living in fear, a fresh start from what they knew in Vietnam… building a different life. I found an interview with the author Thao Lam on YouTube about this beautiful book and her family’s experience. It’s well worth watching. She was only 2 at the time of their escape and as you can read in the Author’s Note at the end, she has no recollection of their journey, all her questions were met with silence about the unspeakable things that happened during the Vietnam war. Her mother, however, found a way to speak about seeking asylum to a young Thao by using insects and telling ‘a magical story about ants, the only invasion before the war’. This magic was a seed planted in Thao’s memory, giving birth to this tender book.

Ants rebuild, ants work together for survival, and they reflect everything Thao Lam’s family and refugees like themselves went through. Of course, a child’s understanding of what they are looking at is different dependent on age. Parents can explain what is happening, the art stands on it’s own, children generally love looking at art. The story is far more tender knowing the background. I always enjoy children’s books, both of my adult children are artists and we appreciate unique stories geared towards the young. It is a good way to teach our youth about other cultures and our own. Books are a bridge between us because stories, too, cross oceans. Lovely.

Out Now Published September 15, 2020

Owlkids Books
Profile Image for Doreen.
2,561 reviews66 followers
September 30, 2020
/9/29/2020 Full review tk at The Frumious Consortium.

9/30/2020 This powerful picture book is a wordless recreation via metaphor of the author's family's journey from Vietnam to Canada at the end of the Vietnam War. Only two at the time, Thao Lam remembers little of the events themselves, but has taken her mother's story and crafted it beautifully for this children's book.

Working in her preferred mixed-media/collage art style, she tells the tale of a Vietnamese family forced to flee their homeland by boat, merging seamlessly with the tale of ants also embarking on a perilous journey using a paper boat her mother folded to keep her quiet and entertained while hiding from military brutality. The ants have a hard time of it out on the open water, beset by heat, birds, hunger and storms. So it is almost magical when the ants make their way to safety, just as Ms Lam's family does, finally settling in beautiful urban Canada.

This is a book that requires the reader to pore over each beautiful panel in order to get the full effect of the story. It's especially important to pay attention on pages 28 & 29, as my 9 year-old and I needed to go back when we were done reading to see that the ants had made landfall and weren't merely swimming in a calmer sea. I was probably slightly more affected by the book than he was, tho he did enjoy the art and the fact that there weren't any words till the insightful author's note at the end.

The Paper Boat is the kind of book that skillfully does the tough but necessary work of encouraging empathy, especially for refugees. While Ms Lam is carefully neutral about the involvement of Malaysia in resettling Vietnamese arrivals, I personally wish that the land I grew up in had shown far more hospitality then, and would show far more kindness and decency to the refugees they host now. Which is all very well for me to say, given that I live in a country with its own deplorable track record, that I'm hoping to help correct come November*. In the meantime, I'll keep promoting books like this one in hopes that it will help open eyes, hearts and minds to the very real human suffering we can do so much to alleviate simply by recognizing the humanity in one another and treating others the way we would want to be treated.

*semi-regular reminder for Americans to check your voter registration and otherwise prepare yourself to vote by going to Vote.org.
Profile Image for Maddie.
222 reviews29 followers
August 13, 2020
"The Paper Boat", by Thao Lam is a beautiful, wordless, picture book. It tells the story of a little girl and her family escaping from Vietnam on a boat, after Southern Vietnam lost the war to Northern Vietnam. There is a beautiful parallel drawn between the little girl and her family escaping on their boat, and a colony of ants escaping on a paper boat. The journey of the ants is full of dangers and that helps put into better perspective the risk of the journey of thousands of refugees that escaped Vietnam on boat. Imagining the journey through this book was heartbreaking, but doing so in the current state of affairs, with the US becoming one of the four countries in the world charging a fee for asylum seekers, was even more painful.

The illustrations in the book are beautiful. They are a collage-art type of illustration, which I've personally never seen in children's books before. The colors from the illustration match the tone of the story very well. Since there are no words, the illustrations do all the job of telling the story, and I felt that they were very good at that. The author's note at the end provides more insight into the story's specific origins, and into the symbolism of the ants. It was quick and interesting to read, but the book doesn't lose it's essence without it.

Despite being a picture book for children, I personally feel that children on their own might miss some of the meaning, especially lower elementary age children. However, if read with adult guidance, I believe this book could open meaningful conversations about the refugee experience. I will definitely purchase this book for my own daughter when she is old enough to engage in such a conversation and, in the meantime, I will add it to my classroom library. Thank you NetGalley and Owlkids for the opportunity to read this beautiful picture book in exchange for my honest opinion.

Read 12th August 2020. (Not counting towards GR challenge)
5,870 reviews130 followers
May 22, 2021
The Paper Boat: A Refugee Story is a children's picture book written and illustrated by Thao Lam. It is a refugee story features distinctive artwork honoring courage, kindness, and memory.

In wordless cut paper and mixed media collage, Lam fictionalizes her family's escape from Vietnam, drawing a human family into relationship with the ants that are interested in food on their table. Backmatter includes an author's note, which supplies important detail in this story of bravery and resilience.

The premise of the book is rather straightforward. A fictionalized refugee story from Vietnam, Lam made an interesting choice of telling a story through metaphor. Instead of using people to represent the hardships endured at sea, Lam employs an ant family on a folded paper boat as proxies. The insects journey across the ocean, through bad weather and seagull attacks, and land in a place where the human family, safe, dines at another table.

All in all, The Paper Boat: A Refugee Story is a timely, resonant, exceptional model of visual storytelling.
Profile Image for Vanessa.
654 reviews30 followers
September 28, 2020
Beautiful story. But above many kiddos heads. Good book to ease kiddos into these topics.
Profile Image for Reading_ Tamishly.
4,473 reviews2,409 followers
July 12, 2021
Damn. I will never forget this one. My heart is breaking though. The ants vs the refugees. If you see the similarity here, you will never forget this story.
Profile Image for Wunderdrugged.
448 reviews2 followers
August 31, 2021
This title is nominated for the 2022 Hackmatack Award in the English Fiction category. Although I have seen it described many times as a 'wordless picture book', my local library has cataloged it as a graphic novel. This story, while cataloged as fiction, is based on the journey that the author's family undertook when she was a small child.
I thought that the collage art was stunning, but it did take me a few pages to figure out the back and forth between the family and the ants. Some of the imagery was pretty intense, with the 'bad guy' soldiers coming tantalizingly close to discovering our mother and daughter duo. Even without any words Lam conveyed the urgency and fear & also the childlike innocence and lack of understanding just what it happening around them. I was glad to read the author's note at the end, and I think that when I discuss this book with a class I will probably start with a brief explanation of the context of the story before we begin. The publisher posted a great video on Youtube with the author explaining how in her research she found that ants find a way to thrive everywhere on earth (with the exception of the north & south polar regions), and how she saw the parallels between the ants and refugees. After I watched that I went through the book a second time & I felt like it made more sense. I also appreciated that the dangerous voyage was depicted by the ants and not actual people, which shows the perils of the journey & how many did not survive without showing too much direct human suffering. In the end we see the family settled into a safe & cozy apartment in a very multicultural city filled with people from many different places making a new home.
I think that this book would be a good tool for initiating a discussion about refugees & why they leave their homes. I would recommend this more for elementary, although I think that the grade six kids will enjoy it.
Profile Image for Joy (Books with Joy).
110 reviews11 followers
October 24, 2020
A powerful picture book. A wordless narrative utilising Lam’s signature collage art. The Paper Boat is an Own Voice picture book depicting the story of a young Vietnamese refugee family as they escape Vietnam. Alongside the young Vietnamese child and their family, we witness a swarm of ants as they too take a perilous journey to safety.

There is an excellent use of the colour scheme, tone, and symbolism. The imagery is powerful, evoking strong emotions with great details. As readers, we witness the subtle details woven in the narrative. There is the bleak and rough art style (the newspaper articles reporting the war, a military tank appearing in the window, soldiers in uniform holding guns, the ants as they journey through the water) contrasted with the ending and the lighter, colourful panels.

I feel that the story was easy to follow through and highly recommend reading the author’s note as it adds great insight to the story and the symbolism of the ants. As a child of immigrants myself, I appreciate this book deeply and how it conveys life’s struggles yet paints hope and determination in the face of adversity.

Overall, Paper Boats is a powerful read, that presents themes such as reliance, strength, hope, and empathy. With background information, this book may serve as a great educational tool in classrooms for accounting refugee experiences and I highly recommend this read.

Thank you to NetGalley and the publishers (OwlKids Books) for providing me with a copy of this in exchange for an honest review.
Profile Image for Rosie.
247 reviews2 followers
April 27, 2021
The Paper Boat is a wordless graphic novel style picture book which follows the journey of a young girl and her family as they flee from war.

Thorough the book there are also images of ants, compared to the girl. The ants role in the book becomes clear when the girl and her mother get into a boat and the ants climb onto a paper boat made by the girls mother. The following pages show the hardships the ants face as they cross the sea- heatstroke, attacks from predators, hunger, and poor weather. I think it’s clever to show the hardships refugees face by using the ants as it is easier to look at than imaging this happening to actual people - although we all know this is what happens. It also shows how small refugees can feel in the world as all that they know is gone. Yet the ants eventually find other ants and recolonise. Just as the girl and her mother eventually find a new place to live with lots of other people living around them.

I picked up on the comparison between the ants and the people before reading the authors note, although I know not all people will. This could make the story quite hard to understand but I don’t think the authors note should be read beforehand as it gives the whole story away. But, each page is filled with such interesting images that can be explored and discussed to try and make meaning of what is happening. This book could be used with UKS2 or even going into KS3 as there’s so much symbolism and depth within the images that are just too good not to explore.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Tasha.
4,117 reviews109 followers
September 22, 2020
Inspired by her own family’s refugee story, this wordless picture book shares the story of a family fleeing Vietnam. Ant crawl around the food on the table in Vietnam, lured into a bowl of sugar water. A little girl saves the ants from the trap and prevents them from drowning. Meanwhile outside the window, tanks and soldiers appear and the family flees into the night, separating from one another. The little girl and her mother hide in the tall grass, narrowly avoiding the searching soldiers. The girl notices a line of ants leaving the grass. They follow the ants and discover the shore where they wait for the boat to carry them away. In the meantime, they make a paper boat from a food wrapper that is used by the ants to escape across the water too. In a new country, the family gathers around a table together, the ants arrive as well.

Lam’s art is exceptional. She has created a detailed world of harrowing dangers in her depiction of Vietnam. Just having the money and papers mixed with bowls of food on the family table indicates a family ready to flee. The loving family provide moments of connection even as they flee, caring for the spirits of the little one among them.

The most powerful piece of the book is when the ants venture onto the sea in their small paper boat. Some ants perish on the journey, hunger is an issue, and they barely survive, in the end swimming to the safety of the shore. That allegory allows the dangers of the journey to be shown in detail but through ants rather than the direct loss of the characters. It’s powerful and also appropriate for children to begin to understand.

This important wordless picture book tells the refugee story with empathy and strength. Appropriate for ages 5-7.
Profile Image for Jessica Haider.
1,791 reviews260 followers
August 5, 2020
The Paper Boat is an #ownvoices picture book telling the story of Vietnamese refugees. The story is told through a series of collages with no words. The story features a young Vietnamese girl who helps some ants who fell into a sugar trap. Later in the story, the girl and her family follow the ants through underbrush to make it to the boat they will escape in. As they reach the shore the girl puts a paper boat in the water, which the ants in turn use to make their escape.

This was a creative way of storytelling that can help children understand what it means to be a refugee, escaping your homeland for a better & safer life. It would be a great addition to any diverse, #ownvoices children's library.

Thank you to the publisher for the review copy of this book!
Profile Image for Dana.
1,163 reviews78 followers
September 27, 2020
Stunning visuals. This is a child's Grimm's fairytale like view of being a refugee leaving war torn Vietnam. I am a huge fan of ants so I really loved the ants as a metaphor for refugees. I really loved the details in the author's note, especially, "Whereever they find themselves, they adapt, contribute, and make a substantial impact on the local environment. They have no fear of hardship and are willing to sacrifice themselves to ensure the safety of their families above all else."

While their are no words to the story, it is impactful and emotional with just the visuals.

Thanks to Netgalley for a review copy in exchange for my honest opinion.
Profile Image for Hafsa | حفصہ.
155 reviews157 followers
December 17, 2020
Disclaimer: Received a free digital copy of the book through Netgalley.

The story of the author’s parents’ journey escaping war in Vietnam to a refugee camp in Malaysia. I absolutely loved the nuanced imagery in this book with the ants and refugees as well as the part where different elements that represent people/things that will help the refugees strike them down (the white peaceful looking birds, thunder, etc). It was fascinating to read the background story behind that stylistic choice in the author’s note. The illustrations were beautiful with a well-balanced color palette. Overall, short, quick read, definitely something to read with kids to educate them about an important historical event and the consequences it had on the people of the country.
Profile Image for Jj.
1,186 reviews35 followers
December 7, 2020
There is much to appreciate here (the cut-paper illustrations are great!), but I think that without the author's note and explanation, I would have missed most all of the real story. What I could piece together from reading and then re-reading the book was not what I took away from it after reading the author's note and then reading it a third time.

Sometimes, I find picture books which would work better without words; this is the rare situation which is reversed. I do wish there had been some text here to give more information to the reader.
Profile Image for Erin.
710 reviews7 followers
August 17, 2020
This wordless graphic novel tells the story of a family fleeing Vietnam, using ants in place of people for much of the story. The cut paper illustrations are stunning and while simple, also richly detailed. The author's note explains the connection between the immigrants fleeing Vietnam and ants in an unusual, and thought provoking way. While too complex for younger readers, this would be great for middle grades or upper elementary.

Thanks to OwlKidsBooks for the ARC.
Profile Image for Jennifer.
3,701 reviews45 followers
December 1, 2020
The collage art is gorgeous and powerful and tells two stories at once: ants seeking food and the author's family fleeing Vietnam. There are no words.

I highly recommend reading the author's note at the back, without which, it's very hard to make sense of the story. After reading the author's note, go back and reread the story.

Disclaimer: I received a free electronic copy of this book from the publisher through Netgalley.com in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.
Profile Image for Robyn.
70 reviews3 followers
November 18, 2020
Thao Lam created another gorgeous picture book, full of her signature lush collages. In The Paper Boat we see a family's refugee journey juxtaposed next to a colony of ants. This wordless book leaves lots of room for discussion with children.
Displaying 1 - 30 of 219 reviews

Can't find what you're looking for?

Get help and learn more about the design.