Logo Title Quebec Reading Connection

Adrift at Sea: A Vietnamese Boy’s Story of Survival

Deines, Brian (Illustrator)
Pajama Press 2016. 40 pages
First published: 2016
ISBN: 9781772780055 (hardcover)
Original language: English
Book type: Non-Fiction
Book genre: Biography

Text Elements:

character, point of view

Reading Range

 
Cycle
Elementary
Secondary
 
1
2
3
1
2
ELA
K
1
2
3
4
5
6
1
2
3
4
5
ESL
1
2
3
4
5
6
1
2
3
4
5
ESL Intensive & Enriched
5
6
1
2
3
4
5

Description:

“Bullets fly past our heads. We duck. The motor kicks over and we speed away.” Courage and hope are the themes running through this memoir picture book of 6-year-old Tuan’s dangerous—and thirsty—open sea journey as a South Vietnamese refugee seeking asylum.

Clear language conveys the uncertainty and hardship of days spent in an unseaworthy craft on the open water: “My lips crack and my skin peels.” Illustrations in soft-focus painted effects seem to glow with light, whether in a Saigon street scene or a seascape with dolphins. One spread shows Tuan climbing a rope ladder to the deck of an American aircraft carrier. Its massive blue profile curves against a yellow sky. In the final image, Tuan’s smile bears a milk moustache—as he finally drinks his fill.

Background information on the Vietnam War and Vietnamese refugees is supported by historic photos and a map. Family photos in the front and back material add another rich layer to the story.

  •  

    Discuss and define the term refugee. Share your knowledge about refugee crises currently in the news. Read the information at the back of the book about the Vietnamese crisis.

  •  As you read, discuss the risks and sacrifices that Tuan and his family make in order to leave Vietnam. What circumstances would compel you to do the same?
  •  Explore teacher-selected resources about the role Canadians played in resettling Vietnamese refugees. Make connections to current events.
  •  

    Use questions that arise from the book as a starting point for an inquiry or action project about Canadian immigration issues.

  •  

    Use teacher-selected resources to research immigration in Canada. Discuss when and why people came to Canada and identify their various origins on a map. Create a timeline of migrations that have enriched our population.

  •  

    Go for a picture walk and discuss how the illustrator portrayed the people’s emotions throughout their journey. As the book is read aloud, compare the picture to the text.

  •  As you read, discuss the risks and sacrifices that Tuan and his family make in order to leave Vietnam. What circumstances would compel you to do the same?
  •  

    From your research, define immigrant and refugee. How do your definitions influence your view of current events?

  • To cooperate with others
  • To exercise critical judgment
  • Citizenship and Community Life
  • Geography, History and Citizenship