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My First Day

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A visually stunning story of resilience and determination by an award-winning new author-illustrator team, perfect for back to school.

This is no ordinary first journey. The rainy season has come to the Mekong Delta, and An, a young Vietnamese boy, sets out alone in a wooden boat wearing a little backpack and armed only with a single oar. On the way, he is confronted by giant crested waves, heavy rainfall and eerie forests where fear takes hold of him. Although daunted by the dark unknown, An realizes that he is not alone and continues to paddle. He knows it will all be worth it when he reaches his destination--one familiar to children all over the world.

40 pages, Library Binding

First published February 16, 2021

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Phùng Nguyên Quang

8 books8 followers

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5 stars
473 (52%)
4 stars
336 (37%)
3 stars
89 (9%)
2 stars
3 (<1%)
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Displaying 1 - 30 of 210 reviews
Profile Image for Ms. B.
3,033 reviews36 followers
June 3, 2021
3.5 stars. This is a sweet and gentle story with lush illustrations about a boy and all the sights he sees as he travels the Mekong River. Where is he going? Listen to or read the words carefully to see if you can figure it out before the end.
Profile Image for Jillian Heise.
2,320 reviews482 followers
May 24, 2021
Gorgeous! I absolutely ADORE this beautiful, surprising story of one boy's first day adventure in Vietnam!! The illustration style highlights the beauty of the traditional styles. Pair with other first day of school stories, showing bravery adventure stories (like Off & Away), and use for figurative language examples..
Profile Image for Edward Sullivan.
Author 5 books203 followers
November 10, 2021
The captivating story of a child's journey by boat from home to his first day at school in the Mekong Delta with lush, fantastical illustrations bringing the sky and water to vibrantly to life.
5,870 reviews130 followers
May 17, 2021
My First Day is a children's picture book written by Phùng Nguyên Quang and illustrated by Huỳnh Kim Liên. A child braves floodwaters and embarks on an adventure – his first day of school.

Quang's text is rather simplistic and straightforward. Quang celebrate the beauty and wealth of the Mekong River, whose floods lead to a gentle transformation of riverside life from a land-based to a water-based existence for a significant portion of the year. Backmatter supplies more information about the delta and its characteristics. Polished, animation-style spreads by Liên dazzle as the boy surmounts huge waves, bails his boat out with a large leaf, and poles his way through a dark, forbidding mangrove forest.

The premise of the book is rather straightforward. A Vietnamese boy's journey starts when he steps from his house into a wooden boat. Equipped with a knapsack and a long pole, he sets out across the Mekong River Delta during flood season, when boats are the only possible transportation.

All in all, My First Day is an enthralling and uplifting celebration of everyday heroes' journeys in the quest for education and learning.
Profile Image for Julie Suzanne.
1,921 reviews70 followers
March 26, 2022
Stunning illustrations bring reader's on a students first day of school journey in Vietnam by way of boat (all by himself). I am enamored by the poetry in the storytelling, the illustrations that tell so much that fewer words are needed, and the peak into another culture. Purchasing for home library to savor again and again. It's deep enough that it can relate to any new journey, not just school. I felt it speaking to me as I start this new life without my husband. Touching.
Profile Image for Moonkiszt.
2,167 reviews212 followers
October 15, 2021
Featured in a grandma reads session.

This exquisite book sweeps you out with a young boy, heading out on his first day of school, in a boat, alone, on the Mekong River. The artwork on these pages is captivating. Stunning. I was so taken with them as I read out loud, I paused too long, having to be nudged to move along. They are gorgeous.

The story itself could really be longer. . . I would have loved that. The kiddos were intrigued at the idea of boating into school, alone. On water, sliding by crocs and snakes all by themselves. "I'll take the bus," said one. Me, too!

A beautiful book.
Profile Image for Andrew.
2,053 reviews49 followers
August 7, 2021
A young Vietnamese boy travels by himself on his First Day down the Mekong River. The uneasy of the waves, the wildlife and the thrills and excitement all culminate into the wonderful reality that he is making his way to school.

Despite the seeming peril our hero is in, this brave young boy is so excited to be making his journey.
This book and illustrations by #OwnVoices author and illustrator showcase beautiful artistry in the poetic writing and the eye-popping illustrations that literally leave your eyes wandering over the pages to capture everything the reader sees along with the boy.

This would be a great book to accompany those who are fans of Moana or Raya and the Last Dragon in respect of cultural and geographical exploration of unique places around the world.
Profile Image for Abby Johnson.
3,373 reviews319 followers
April 3, 2021
What a gorgeous picture book about the first day of school in the Mekong Delta. An sets out in a boat to make his way to school by himself for the first time. The illustrations in this book are so beautiful and the challenging journey An faces could be a metaphor for any child tackling a big step like the first day of school. Back batter includes small maps that show the rivers of the Mekong Delta and information about the area. Pair this one with Along the Tapajos for another picture book depicting kids navigating a river community.
88 reviews1 follower
April 4, 2022
5/5 for whimsical absolutely gorgeous illustrations! 3/5 stars for abstract poetry that is difficult for children to grasp.
Profile Image for Livia Blackburne.
Author 11 books1,281 followers
July 4, 2021
MY FIRST DAY is an absolutely stunning picture book. It’s about a boy rowing to school by himself for the first time. The descriptions are lyrical, and the visuals are jaw-dropping.
Profile Image for Tasha.
4,117 reviews109 followers
March 23, 2021
A boy heads out on his own to his first day of school. He lives on the Mekong River and takes a boat to school, this time all alone. He heads out as dawn is breaking in the sky, weaving along the river, through the waves, and entering the mangrove forest. The journey is long, with dark rainy weather at times that then becomes colorful skies. The forest is dark and seems to have creatures all over watching him travel. When he exits the forest, he can see fish skimming under the water, water buffalo along the shore, and soon his friends in their own boats heading to school!

Quang and Lien beautifully takes a universal experience of the first day of school and makes it unique to the Mekong Delta experience. Through this fascinating journey of natural wonder, the main character must be brave and resolute that he can do this by himself. The text is marvelous, quiet at times as the weather or the setting becomes oppressive and then soaring with relief and joy when the weather changes and his destination is in sight.

The illustrations are exceptional, drawing readers deep into the Mekong. The focus is on the boy’s experience, but the river itself is a character too. Its waters glimmer in the shallows with green light, darken with the rain, and are painted with algae green at the mouth of the forest. Dotted with lotus flowers, bubbles and cresting waves, the river and the boy experience this journey together.

A journey to school that is far more than crossing a busy street! Appropriate for ages 4-6.
Profile Image for Tracie.
1,400 reviews34 followers
March 26, 2021
In a first-day-of-school story like no other, a young boy embarks on a bold journey across the Mekong River Delta in a wooden boat. Panoramic illustrations and thoughtful prose with a touch of suspense make this an excellent conversation starter, inviting young children to reflect upon their own first-day-of-school experiences and the universal feelings that accompany them (fear, anxiety, excitement, etc).

In the time between reading a review of this that inspired me to track it down and actually getting the book and reading it, I forgot that this was a school story--and was glad for my forgetfulness. Not knowing where the story was headed added an extra layer of pleasure to the reading experience; I enjoyed watching the journey unfold all the way to the end twist that took my breath away.

Profile Image for Katie Reilley.
835 reviews31 followers
June 1, 2021

Gorgeous illustrations paired with beautiful writing make this first day of school story (set in Vietnam) a must read. Don’t miss the backmatter!
Profile Image for Alicia.
6,215 reviews124 followers
March 4, 2022
In love with the concept, the storytelling, and the art. When these three things combine telling a tale that's both universal and unique, it's like hearts exploding everywhere.

The boy is on his way to the first day of school, but to get there he has to navigate the waters of the Mekong Delta in Vietnam by himself. He's got his boat and his paddle but on the way he pushed through monstrous waves and nature's wonders like the water buffalo and reptiles. But his courage and perseverance reign as he makes his way with all the other children to that illustrious first day and he did it by himself.

The perspective on some of the images is breathtaking like where the fish are below and he's on the surface or how he crests the waves. Not only is it a colorful feast but the lines and smooth and rich. I would love to see this a part of the "first day" cadre of books!
Profile Image for Hannah Kosel.
47 reviews5 followers
May 3, 2022
mother Mekong makes me think of mother Mississippi. and brings me back to kids going to school on Rio Dulce de Izabal. what creatures to greet you along the way!
Profile Image for Becky B.
7,751 reviews101 followers
April 26, 2021
A little boy must overcomes his fears and the natural challenges around him to get to school on his own in Vietnam.

I've read the author & illustrator's The First Journey that was published in Singapore a few years ago that features a very similar concept. At first I thought this was a republish of the same book, but the illustrations and text are slightly different. This one focuses more on the boy overcoming his own mental hurdles and the other focuses a touch more on the natural hurdles. Both are set in Southern Vietnam, both are about a boy paddling to school on his own, and both feature amazing artwork. I love looking at what everyday school transportation is like in different areas of the world. Even to our kids living just one country over from Vietnam, this is such a foreign and novel concept that they will be enthralled.
Profile Image for Claire Wrobel.
752 reviews8 followers
February 16, 2023
This book is a masterpiece. Each page is incredibly beautiful. I could spend forever staring at each page. I also love the story because it is both adventurous and everyday. It shows beauty in different ways of life but also shows that people and kids all over the world can still experience the same things, like the first day of school.
Profile Image for Allie.
1,406 reviews38 followers
April 6, 2021
Absolutely tremendous illustrations! The text is simple enough to read in a pre-school story time without pinning any pages. There's some good social-emotional beats and some really exciting imaginative play. Plus it's a really cool window into how some Vietnamese children along the Mekong get to school. There's also some good back-matter about the cultural and environmental importance of the river. Really lovely!
Profile Image for Deborah.
Author 13 books192 followers
August 17, 2021
"Strangeness and familiarity are braided together," says Christopher Myers, "The book collapses the space between same and different and in doing so creates something very close to wonder in our everyday."

Wonder indeed. A wholly fresh look at the 1st day of school.
Profile Image for Dan.
1,078 reviews78 followers
September 25, 2021
Yet another amazing book from Christopher Myers Make Me A World imprint. Highly recommend as a read aloud early on in the year.
Profile Image for Laura Giessler.
1,041 reviews
February 18, 2022
Gorgeous illustrations convey how central the Mekong River is to life in Vietnam. A young boy navigates the waters and narrates his journey. We are surprised at where he ends up--at the first day of school! Back matter includes facts about the Mekong River and a discussion about how the water is "a roadway, a supermarket, a meeting place, and even the path to school."
2,795 reviews6 followers
August 4, 2021
Hmm ... I want my kids to understand that not everyone lives a middle-class life in exurbia. Maybe I'll use this as a jumpinng-off point.
Profile Image for Mary Ann.
1,485 reviews279 followers
August 9, 2021
Captivating illustrations and beautiful language make this a fabulous read aloud. I especially appreciate the metaphors that encourage readers to see how similar our feelings can be, even though our experiences may be vastly different.
Profile Image for Laura.
405 reviews1 follower
July 28, 2021
What a good book to read at the beginning of the school year. I didn't realize what it was about until the end. Here a boy from the Mekong Delta who is old enough "to go alone." I assumed this was his first trip alone in a boat based on the title of the book. He goes through a bunch of beautiful landscapes seeing lush vegetation and curious creatures. In a way his environment is both ominous and beautiful. At the end, he arrives at school along other classmates who come from different places in the area by boat. His first time/first day was getting to paddle himself to school by himself for the start of the school year. There was a note at the back about sameness and differences about the first day of school. I liked it because the same feelings are shared by children on that first day even though there are many differences like environment and transportation. Life is about the familiar and the differences we share.
Displaying 1 - 30 of 210 reviews

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