WHERE WILDFLOWERS GROW by Hà Dinh
ILLUSTRATOR: Bao Luu
GENRE: Children’s Picture Book
RELEASE DATE: June 13, 2023
A beautifully moving picture book that reminds us that wherever we move—across the sea or across the neighborhood—we can always keep growing . . . just like wildflowers.
After being uprooted from their home in Vietnam, young Hà is happy with her new life at the refugee camp. But today is Moving Day! And while the rest of the family is excited to head to their “forever home” in America, Hà doesn’t want to leave.
Leaving means saying goodbye to her best friend, her loving teacher, and the beautiful wildflowers she picks daily. She’s not ready for yet another change. Who will play the game Ô Ăn Quan with her? What if she can’t master speaking English?
Can Hà carry the best parts of her beloved camp with her? Can wildflowers grow in America too?
Inspired by the author’s childhood, Where Wildflowers Grow explores the emotional struggle of moving and the joy in discovering there’s always hope in new beginnings.
Look in the back of the book for pictures and details about the author’s journey to America, as well as rules to play the game featured in the story!
As a former English As a Second/Other Language teacher, my heart is so tender toward this sweet little picture book and toward Hà and her family. Even more so when I read that they ended up in Kentucky, where I taught ESOL. Following Hà’s journey from Vietnam to the refugee camp in the Philippines and then to America brought so many other precious faces to my mind, and several of her experiences mirrored that of my students’ and their families as well. The author tucks a lot of these details subtly between the lines, and the illustrator adds even more of these nods to the refugee experience as a whole in the gorgeous artwork. And yet, just like all of us are individuals so are our experiences, and I very much enjoyed reading Hà’s unique story through this picture book.
I’ve already mentioned the gorgeous illustrations, but they are so sweet and full of life and emotion that I just wanted to hug the book when I was finished. (I may have.) The author’s text lilts beautifully across the pages, painting a verbal picture of refugee life that comes alive visually with Bao Luu’s talented artwork. I also loved the personal photographs and mini biography included in the back of the book, pictures of the author and her family in their refugee journey that can help children identify even more with the illustrated story. (You can see some of them HERE)
Bottom Line: Where Wildflowers Grow by Hà Dinh (illustrated by Bao Luu) is rich in culture and feelings, and the message of personal growth is one that any child can apply to his/her own life even if they are never in the same exact situations. The vivid illustrations perfectly complement the engaging text and bring the story to life on the pages. Personal touches throughout also provide plenty of teachable moments between children & the adults reading the book to them, making this a great addition to any school library as well as home. My only complaint is that I wanted more!
(I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy of this book which I received from the publisher. All views expressed are only my honest opinion.)
My Rating: 4.5 stars / loved it!
Hà Dinh wanted to be an author from the moment she first held a book in her hands. She is the wife of her high school sweetheart, a mother of two, the founder of the Happy Days in First Grade teaching blog, and an elementary school teacher. Hà seeks to inspire kids to share their own stories and make a positive impact in the world. Connect with the author on her website.
Born and raised in Vietnam, Bao Luu currently lives in the United States where, as a professional artist, he loves playing with color and texture in his illustrations. The inspiration for different elements in his unique artwork comes from observing everything in life.
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What about you? What makes you want to read Where Wildflowers Grow by Hà Dinh (illustrated by Bao Luu) with a little one in your life?