Vietnamese Children's Favorite Stories

, retel. illus. by Nguyen Thi Hop & Nguyen Dong. 96p. Tuttle. Apr. 2015. Tr $16.95. ISBN 9780804844291.
Gr 2–4—This attractively illustrated collection features 15 traditional Vietnamese folktales. In her introduction, Phuoc describes the power of stories, explaining that Vietnamese children living in America can "learn about the land of their ancestors" from this compendium, and conveys "hope that these stories…become a vehicle for bridging gaps between cultures." American children will recognize familiar elements in tales such as "The Story of Tam and Cam," a Vietnamese Cinderella story, and "Why the Sea Is Salty," an entry reminiscent of Tomie dePaola's Strega Nona, wherein a greedy man learns a lesson. Much like European fairy tales, with which most readers will be familiar, these offerings reward men who are brave, loyal, and wise and women who are beautiful, clearly defined in one story as having "shiny black hair, smooth fair skin, and [a] graceful manner." While virtue is prized, violent punishments for evildoers are notably absent, with false friends being banished or losing their ill-gotten fortunes. Many of these stories are pourquoi tales, explaining the natural world or features of Vietnamese culture, such as "Why One Shouldn't Sweep the House on Tet Nguyen Dan." The delicate and detailed watercolor illustrations elegantly enhance the appeal of this work.
VERDICT A valuable and culturally authentic addition to folktale collections.

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