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by Ha Song

illustrated by Thu Ha Ly


School Library Journal:

(The following is a combined review for Indebted as Lord Chom/No Nhu Chua Chom: The Legend of the Forbidden Street; Tam and Cam/Tam Cam: The Ancient Vietnamese Cinderella Story; and The TET Pole/Su Tich Cay Neu Ngay Tet: The Story of the TET Festival) Gr 1–4— In these three folktales, English and Vietnamese texts accompany, and are sometimes printed on top of, full-color illustrations. The strangely entitled Indebted is both a pourquoi tale, explaining the names of two streets in Hanoi, and an account of a power struggle and a hidden prince whose true identity is revealed through a series of dreams sent by Buddha. The pictures are richly colored, realistic, and full of detail. Tam and Cam shares elements of the Cinderella story while also incorporating an expanded plot reminiscent in some details of the “Arabian Nights.” In this case, the half sisters both die, first Tam (the Cinderella figure) at the hands of her wicked stepmother. But she then passes through a series of reincarnations until she becomes herself again and tricks Cam into having herself scalded to death. The art is somewhat stylized, but attractive. TET Pole details the misfortunes of poor farmers after devils take over the land and demand the best of their crops. Buddha helps the farmers first to trick the devils out of the food and then to drive them into the sea. It explains the reason for the TET festival. The cartoon artwork is a bit idiosyncratic; it features drawings with skewed angles and figures with exaggerated expressions. All three titles will be especially appreciated in collections serving new immigrants and Vietnamese Americans.—Coop Renner, Hillside Elementary, El Paso, TX –Coop Renner (Reviewed January 1, 2007) (School Library Journal, vol 53, issue 1, p118)


  • USBBY Outstanding International Books – Grades 3-5: 2007


1st Grade, 2nd Grade, 3rd Grade, 4th Grade, Ages 9-12, Bilingual, Folklore, Non-fiction