Brainy Parenting

My First Day

Author: Phùng Nguyên Quang

Illustrator: Huỳnh Kim Liên

Published in 2021 by Make Me a World, an imprint of Random House Children’s Books

My First Day presents breathtaking beauty, poetic text, and luminous illustrations to capture a remarkable story of determination and resilience. Our hero is a young boy who sets out on his journey early in the morning in his little wooden boat, armed with a single oar. He must travel along the Mekong River in Vietnam to get to school, and he must make this expedition alone for the first time. With a tenacious spirit, he leads readers through tempestuous waves, eerie mangrove trees, and a dark unknown. Even in the face of fear, he continues to paddle and make way on his voyage until he reaches the glorious open skies, schools of fish, friendly faces, and at last, his destination.

My First Day illustrates a compelling and cinematic journey. While the passage may look extraordinary, readers can resonate with the universal experience of going to school, along with the excitement, uncertainties, fears, hopes, and triumphs that can accompany the endeavor. The conclusion of the book provides an informative note from the author and illustrator to honor the experience they share with this narrative: “For the people of the Mekong Delta, the water shapes their relationship with everything in their daily life… My First Day is one story of the first day of school in our part of the world.” Additionally, facts about the Mekong River teach readers about the setting of this story: “The Mekong River area has one of the world’s most diverse collections of flora and fauna,” which is intricately reflected in the lush illustrations. My First Day is a magnificent treasure.



Additional Resources:

  • Explore author Phùng Nguyên Quang’s Instagram portfolio
  • Explore illustrator Huỳnh Kim Liên’s Instagram portfolio
  • Read about MAKE ME A WORLD, an imprint of Random House Children’s Books, from creative director Christopher Myers


This post appeared first on Samantha Cronin's Kid Lit Library.