Maria V. Acevedo-Aquiño, University of Texas A&M, San Antonio, Desiree W. Cueto, Western Washington University, and Dorea Kleker, University of Arizona
This month we consider the theme of “windows” as we discuss four recently published books, all with global connections. Windows provide distinct vantage points from which to consider our communities—people, spaces, relationships—and our place among them. While two of these books are centered specifically on the pandemic, we didn’t intend for this to be our focus. However, as we responded, it became clear that we couldn’t ignore the impacts the last year has had on our lives, our communities, the questions we wanted to ask one another and our visions for what comes next.
Megan McCaffrey, Governor’s State University in Chicago, Chicago, IL
LeUyen Pham prides herself on providing multicultural representation in her books whenever possible or, as she has stated, to make sure children do “not feel excluded.” She, more than most, can firsthand relate to more than one culture and believes children should see themselves in books. LeUyen was born in Saigon, Vietnam, in 1973. She and her family were several of the last refugees on the roof of the United States (US) Embassy rescued by helicopter during the fall of Saigon in 1975. She was only 2 years old at the time Saigon fell and her family escaped. Her family made their way to the United States via several stops along the way with the help of a sponsor and settled in Temple City, California, a suburb of Los Angeles. Besides both her Vietnamese and American culture, she also has strong French connections. The most immediate connection being her mother who is half Vietnamese half French. Her husband is French graphic artist Alexandre Puvilland and her two children with Puvilland attend a French School in Los Angeles. Another French connection comes from her own Vietnamese heritage; Vietnam was occupied by the French from the late 1800s until the mid-1950s, leaving its cultural marks throughout the larger Vietnamese culture and most likely LeUyen’s parents lives. Hence, LeUyen is not only part of multiple cultures but also is also part of a culture that she did not see represented in children’s literature while growing. Continue reading