Ti&;n loves his family and his friends…but Ti&;n has a secret he's been keeping from them, and it might change everything. An amazing YA graphic novel that deals with the complexity of family and how stories can bring us together.
Real life isn't a fairytale.
But Ti&;n still enjoys reading his favorite stories with his parents from the books he borrows from the local library. It's hard enough trying to communicate with your parents as a kid, but for Ti&;n, he doesn't even have the right words because his parents are struggling with their English. Is there a Vietnamese word for what he's going through?
Is there a way to tell them he's gay?
A beautifully illustrated story by Trung Le Nguyen that follows a young boy as he tries to navigate life through fairytales, an instant classic that shows us how we are all connected. The Magic Fish tackles tough subjects in a way that accessible with readers of all ages, and teaches us that no matter what—we can all have our own happy endings. - (Random House, Inc.)
*Starred Review* The magic happens here on every page, the perfection personified by debut author/artist Nguyen's autobiographical homage to the infinite power of storytelling. The opening page ingeniously distinguishes three interwoven narratives with three color palettes: red is the urgent now, about young Ti?n and his mother learning to communicate through the language of fairy tales when difficult conversations can't yet be uttered; brown is the older past, of Ti?n's mother's cleaving journey from war-torn Vietnam to become a U.S. citizen; blue are the stories we tell to help understand, shape, and even save our very lives. Ti?n has a secret he desperately needs to declare, especially to his mother, but she's suddenly called back to Vietnam when her own mother dies. Three parallel stories bind the generations together: mother and son read aloud Alera, a Cinderella-esque story of cross-dressing true love; mother-in-mourning and her elderly aunt recall the fairy godparent-like magic fish; mother-returned and son-in-waiting share a different magic fish, a voiceless mermaid who learns to speak through dance. Such are the stories that will reveal the truth. Even as his panels end, Nguyen's magic continues—as writer, his spare author's note is an articulate reclamation, even reinvention, of the immigrant narrative; as artist, his detailed commentary on illustrative genesis—European, colonial, Asian, American Midwest inspirations—provide both historical and personal revelations. Grades 8-12. Copyright 2020 Booklist Reviews.
School Library Journal Reviews
Gr 7 Up—Le Nguyen folds five stories into his narrative. There's Tien, a young teen who's trying to figure out how to tell his parents he's gay while nursing a crush on one of his best friends. Meanwhile, his mother, Helen, struggles to help a sick parent back in Vietnam. Then there are three gorgeous fairy-tale adaptations from around the world, which Tien and his mother like to read together to learn English. The language gap between the two makes Tien wonder how his parents will react if he comes out, but their love for one another resonates throughout the story. Tien's best friends, Claire and Julian, are also an important support system for him. Though there are moments of stress and doubt, everything comes together, all wrapped up in Le Nguyen's sumptuous illustrations and intricate linework. The couture dresses worn by the characters in the fairy tales contrast with Helen's job as a seamstress and the patchwork coat she makes for Tien. Questions of happy endings and sacrifice—the bread and butter of fairy tales—are explored deftly. Notes from the author provide details on his own experience as the child of immigrants who spoke a hybrid language at home. He also includes in-depth information on the fashion and art, which will appeal to close readers of comics. VERDICT A lovely and original take on fairy tales, identity, and culture.—Gretchen Hardin, Bee Cave P.L., TX
Copyright 2020 School Library Journal.