#WomenReadWomen2019 Books Early Readers Features Genre It's Monday What Are You Reading Lifespan of a Reader Picture Books Reading Themes Sisterhood and Female Bonds

[Monday Reading] Sassy And Jealous Sisters in Picturebooks by Author-Illustrators from Vietnam (one now based in the US)

"Sun & Moon Sisters" by Khoa Le | "Big Sister, Little Sister" by LeUyen Pham.


It's Monday! What Are You Reading

Myra here.

It’s Monday, What are You Reading is a meme hosted by Jen from Teach Mentor Texts and Kellee and Ricki from Unleashing Readers (new host of Monday reading: Kathryn T at Book Date). Since two of our friends, Linda from Teacher Dance and Tara from A Teaching Life have been joining this meme for quite awhile now, we thought of joining this warm and inviting community. 

I love how our current reading theme is leading me to so many sister-themed picturebooks written by women. These two are created by author-illustrators: one originally from Vietnam but now based in the US, and another born and currently based in Vietnam!

Sun & Moon Sisters

Written and Illustrated by Khoa Le
Published by Insight Kids (2017)
ISBN: 1608877329 (ISBN13: 9781608877324). Borrowed from the Jurong West Public Library. Book photos taken by me.

Sun and Moon are young sisters who rule the sky together. Like all siblings, they have their off moments when they get jealous of each other, and wonder about who is considered the most important by people on earth.

Hence, to determine exactly who is the most valued among the two of them, they decided to switch places: with Sister Sun governing the night, and Sister Moon taking her place in the light.

Naturally, things went haywire. I like how in this world, the adults are conspicuously absent. The children were the ones who called out to the Sisters in the Skies to please stop fighting and for them to just do their job so that things would go back to the way they were.

Similar to my observation of Khoa Le’s other picturebook that we featured hereThe Cloud Princessthe art takes central stage in the narrative, with the storytelling secondary. Khoa Le has a distinctive style that is clearly luminous and magical. However, I feel that there is something missing in the character development and the narrative arc that distances me from the story. It is very pretty but the story is lacking in depth and credibility. That being said, I am a huge fan of the artistic style and look forward to other stories by Khoa Le.

Big Sister, Little Sister

Written and Illustrated by LeUyen Pham
Published by Hyperion Books for Children (2005)
ISBN: 0786851821 (ISBN13: 9780786851829). Borrowed from the Jurong West Public Library. Book photos taken by me.

This is a beautiful story that LeUyen has dedicated to her big sister LeChi Pham who apparently is “the first at everything, and now you’re my first book!” I love the flippant, smart-alecky nature of this book that I found infinitely entertaining and so heartwarming.

I especially enjoyed how LeUyen Pham made use of the power of her art to convey information not found in the text. Whatever text-narrative is there exists for a purpose, and is distilled to its barest, sassy detail – see image below for an example.

I love the expressiveness in these girls’ faces, the long-suffering patience of the big sister, and the outright unapologetic mischief and adorable-ness in the little sister’s face.

We have featured quite a number of sister-themed stories for our quarterly reading theme, but I can unreservedly state that this, right here, is one of my favourites.

#WomenReadWomen2019: United States of America (LeUyen Pham was born and raised in Vietnam but is now based in the US) and Vietnam (Khoa Le)

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Myra is a Teacher Educator and a registered clinical psychologist based in Al Ain, United Arab Emirates. Prior to moving to the Middle East, she lived for eleven years in Singapore serving as a teacher educator. She has edited five books on rediscovering children’s literature in Asia (with a focus on the Philippines, Malaysia, India, China, Japan) as part of the proceedings for the Asian Festival of Children’s Content where she served as the Chair of the Programme Committee for the Asian Children’s Writers and Illustrators Conference from 2011 until 2019. While she is an academic by day, she is a closet poet and a book hunter at heart. When she is not reading or writing about books or planning her next reads, she is hoping desperately to smash that shuttlecock to smithereens because Badminton Is Life (still looking for badminton courts here at UAE - suggestions are most welcome).

7 comments on “[Monday Reading] Sassy And Jealous Sisters in Picturebooks by Author-Illustrators from Vietnam (one now based in the US)

  1. I have really enjoyed LeUyen Pham’s books in the past, so I will watch for this one. Thanks!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Wow the art in Sun & Moon Sisters is just stunning!
    I can’t believe I haven’t read Big Sister, Little Sister. I thought I had devoured everything by LeUyen Pham!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Those are great picture books.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Wow, I just love the artwork in Sun & Moon Sisters! I’m going to go look this one up right now. Thanks for sharing these, Myra. I’m posting my #imwayr post rather late this week due to a family illness, but couldn’t allow myself to skip out entirely. 🙂 Have a wonderful reading week!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Jana Eschner

    I was able to order all three picture books mentioned in your list from the library: Big Sister, Little Sister; The Cloud Princess, and Sun & Moon Sisters. Can’t wait to look at them. Thanks for sharing!

    Liked by 1 person

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