Thuy is a Vietnamese-American little girl who is bullied and teased at school – in part because of her appearance/heritage, and also because she has two mothers instead of a mother/father parent base. On her way home from a particularly bad day at school she notices her footprints in the snow and her childhood imagination takes over and she pretends she’s a variety of animals.
When she returns home, she tells her mothers about her problems at school. They don’t try to solve her problems, but instead just show some love and offer to play pretend with her.
This is a pretty simple story (as a picture book ought to be) with some pretty grand themes … LGBTQ and racial bigotry is a lot to take on in a picture book. But it’s the subtlety that makes this work. The book is mostly about love (parent for child) and finding ways to escape the anger and frustration of teasing and bullying at school.
The creative imagination that Thuy goes through would be fun to recreate as adults read this out loud to children and I can imagine my children would have enjoyed multiple readings of this book.
And yet the subtlety is almost too subtle. The book is so gentle in its presentation that the issues (same-sex parenting and racism) can easily get lost. Maybe that’s a good thing…? I mean there are some things we don’t need to discuss outright with very young children, but having them present in a book so that it can be discussed if the child brings it up, can be quite helpful.
The artwork by Basia Tran is delightful and friendly and children will enjoy staring at each page.
One minor complaint… being of Midwestern, Anglo-Saxon descent, I didn’t know the pronunciation of many of these terms and names. It’s nice that there is a pronunciation guide in the back of the book, but it would have been more helpful for me to know that before I read it – very incorrectly – the first time.
Look for this book when it is released in the fall of 2019 and have it ready to read before the first snow. Your children will love making their own unique footprints in the snow after reading this.
Looking for a good book? My Footprints by Bao Phi, with art by Basia Tran, is a sweet picture book with subtle themes of racism and LGBTQ that will open the door for discussion.
I received a digital copy of this book from the publisher, through Netgalley, in exchange for an honest review.
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author: Bao Phi
artist: Basia Tran
hardcover, 32 pages