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A Different Pond
A Different Pond
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Reviewed Titles Award Winners New Releases

A Different Pond

by Bao Phi
Illustrated by Thi Bui

Acclaimed poet Bao Phi delivers a powerful, honest glimpse into a relationship between father and son and between cultures, old and new. A Different Pond is an unforgettable story about a simple event—a long-ago fishing trip. As a young boy, Bao Phi awoke early, hours before his father's long workday began, to fish on the shores of a small pond in Minneapolis. Unlike many other anglers, Bao and his father fished for food, not recreation. A successful catch meant a fed family. Between hope-filled casts, Bao’s father told him about a different pond in their homeland of Vietnam. The New York Times has said that Bao Phi’s poetry “rhymes with the truth.” Together with graphic novelist Thi Bui’s striking, evocative art, Phi’s expertly crafted prose reflects an immigrant family making its way in a new home while honoring its bonds to the past.

GenreRealistic Fiction
Reading LevelGrades 2-3
Interest LevelGrades K-4
Lexile Level620L
Text TypeNarrative Nonfiction
PublisherPicture Window Books
Page Dimensions9" x 11"
Page Count32
BindingReinforced Library Binding
List Price: $23.32 School/Library Price



NBC News, Books Featuring Asian Americans, Pacific Islanders for Kids and Teens - Frances Kai-Hwa Wang

"Nationally recognized spoken word poet and community activist Bao Phi, together with graphic novelist Thi Bui, recalls a story about waking up early to go fishing with his father at a small pond in Minneapolis before his father went to work. Unlike other fishermen, however, they were fishing to feed their family, not for fun. While fishing, Phi's father told him about another pond that he knew — one in Vietnam." - NBC News, Books Featuring Asian Americans, Pacific Islanders for Kids and Teens

May 30, 2017

Booklist - Sarah Hunter

"STARRED REVIEW! Phi’s bittersweet story of the resourcefulness of an immigrant family is lovingly illustrated in Bui’s evocative artwork. . . .This wistful, beautifully illustrated story will resonate not only with immigrant families but any family that has faced struggle." - Booklist

July 1, 2017


Kirkus Reviews

"STARRED REVIEW! A fishing trip is not just a fishing trip in this poignant, semiautobiographical tale. . . .Together, Phi's gentle, melodic prose and Bui's evocative art, presented in brushy and vividly colored panels and double-page spreads, rise above the melancholy to tell a powerful, multilayered story about family, memory, and the costs of becoming a refugee. Spare and simple, a must-read for our times." - Kirkus Reviews

June 15, 2017

Publishers Weekly

"STARRED REVIEW! Graphic novel panels and strong figures give the pages the air of a documentary as Phi celebrates an unexpected superhero: a father who endures a strange new culture, works to support his family, cherishes time with his son, and draws no attention to the sacrifices he’s made." - Publishers Weekly

June 9, 2017


Star Tribune - Laurie Hertzel

"Minneapolis writer Bao Phi is a poet, and this lovely book — told through the eyes of the little boy — employs the same economy of language and vivid imagery as any fine poem. Themes of immigration, hard work, racism and the uniting power of nature are touched on lightly and naturally. Thi Bui’s nighttime illustrations glow." - Star Tribune

July 10, 2017

Kartika Review - Simi Kang

"Like much of Phi’s poetry, this book is simultaneous, multiple, about class and race and family, thick with love and loud in its subtleties, themselves a significant piece of the collaborative work of author and illustrator. . . .As Phi explained, while on the surface A Different Pond presents as a simple parent-child narrative, it is, at heart, a refugee tale." - Kartika Review

June 30, 2017


Phuoc Thi Minh Tran, storyteller, and award-winning author

"What impresses me most about reading Bao Phi’s A Different Pond is the intertwining of important values of Vietnamese culture throughout the pages:  family, faith, food, hope, and belief. The bonding between father-son is incredible and inspiring. The young boy feels trusted, important, smart, strong, capable, and loved. His father has shaped who he will become later in life and to always DREAM BIG. . . .A “Picture Perfect” and welcome addition to any refugee families and beyond." - Phuoc Thi Minh Tran, storyteller, and award-winning author

June 29, 2017

A Fuse 8 Production, School Library Journal - Elizabeth Bird

"This book not only looks good and reads beautifully but it shows the practical day-to-day solutions of surviving in America for some families." - A Fuse 8 Production, School Library Journal

May 3, 2017


Calling Caldecott, Horn Book - Martha V. Parravano

"I’m not usually all about the cover, but when I saw this cover, I stopped looking at all the other books near it and swooped in to check it out. It’s not your average picture book cover, right? Has more a feel of a graphic novel cover, maybe? It’s certainly unusual, and the cover is no bait-and-switch: that quality of freshness and originality continues after you open the book and begin to read." - Calling Caldecott, Horn Book

April 13, 2017

A Fuse 8 Production, School Library Journal - Elizabeth Bird

"In the book a boy goes fishing with his father. That would normally be the kind of thing you’d find in a lot of father-son bonding books, but the difference here is that to get to the water they have to climb over road barriers. The two are in Minneapolis at a spot not specifically designated for fishing. They do it to supplement the parents’ income and refrigerator in a practical manner before the dad goes off to the first of his two jobs. Phi explains that his parents fled Vietnam after the war and faced prejudice and potential poverty when they settled in the States. Reading the book, I wondered how clear it would be to child readers what was going on. For an adult, the moment when they climb over the road barriers and go down the hill to the water is a big clue. For kids, they may or may not pay attention to the economics behind the father’s decision. They might just think it’s cool that a dad would go early morning fishing with his son before his job. Whatever the case, it’s a great book." - A Fuse 8 Production, School Library Journal

April 4, 2017



Little Free Library

2017 Action Book Club Selection

June 1, 2017

Bao Phi

Bao Phi

Bao Phi was born in vietnam and raised in the phillips neighborhood of South Minneapolis.  He is an author, a poet, a community organizer, and a father.

Go to the Author’s Page →