Vietnamese Children's Favorite Stories, retold by Tran Thi Minh Phuoc

One of the rewards of being part of the first round of the Cybils Awards is the addition of interesting books to your to be read pile--I find that the opportunity for publisher to nominate a limited number of their own books results in getting review copies of things I'd never heard of, and am glad to now have read!  One such book in my category of Elementary/Middle Grade Speculative Fiction is Vietnamese Children's Favorite Stories, retold by Tran Thi Minh Phuoc, illustrated by Nguyen Thi Hop and Nguyen Dong (Tuttle Publishing, 2015).

This anthology of 15 hero tales, just-so stories, and straight out fairy tales, good for kids 6-9ish,  is both entertaining and informative.  I was happy to expand the range of my own interior holding of folktales, and particularly glad to learn from one of the hero tales (Le Loi and the Magic Sword) a bit of Vietnamese history that I was never taught in school (I very much like historical knowledge painlessly acquired in this way!).  The writing is smooth and nicely descriptive without being cluttered--I can easily imagine reading these stories out loud, and at three to six or so pages each (with lots of space taken by illustrations) they are a good read-aloud length. 

I found the illustrations pleasant, but not remarkable; they seemed to me to be not dissimilar in style to old fashioned American fairy tale anthologies of my own child hood back in the 1970s... but because you don't have to trust me viz illustrations, here's what School Library Journal said: "The delicate and detailed watercolor illustrations elegantly enhance the appeal of this work."  Here's what I can say with conviction--the cover is gorgeous and inviting as all get out.

So basically this is a fine book to offer the kid who wants fairy tales of many lands, be they Vietnamese themselves or not, and a very fine book for parents to get a hold of if they want to expand the imaginations of their young.  It's a good, solid, authentic addition to any library's shelves.

Here's the Kirkus Review, with which I am in agreement.

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