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The Magic Fish
Cover of The Magic Fish
The Magic Fish
(A Graphic Novel)
Borrow
Tiến loves his family and his friendsbut Tiến 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 Tiến 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 Tiến, 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.
Tiến loves his family and his friendsbut Tiến 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 Tiến 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 Tiến, 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.
Available formats-
  • OverDrive Read
Languages:-
Copies-
  • Available:
    2
  • Library copies:
    2
Levels-
  • ATOS:
    3.0
  • Lexile:
    400
  • Interest Level:
    UG
  • Text Difficulty:
    K - 2

Recommended for you

About the Author-
  • Trung Le Nguyen, also known as Trungles, is a comic book artist and illustrator working out of Minnesota. He received his BA from Hamline University in 2012, majoring in Studio Art with a concentration in oil painting and minoring in Art History. He has contributed work for Oni Press, BOOM! Studios, Limerence Press, and Image Comics. He is particularly fond of fairy tales, kids' cartoons, and rom-coms of all stripes. The Magic Fish is his debut graphic novel.
Reviews-
  • Booklist

    Starred review from July 1, 2020
    Grades 8-12 *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.(Reprinted with permission of Booklist, copyright 2020, American Library Association.)

  • School Library Journal

    August 1, 2020

    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, LLC Used with permission.

  • Publisher's Weekly

    Starred review from October 19, 2020
    Tiến Phong, 12, who “speak mostly English,” and his mother, Hiến, a refugee who “speak mostly Vietnamese,” have long read fairy tales together to bolster Hiến’s English. Tiến cherishes this bonding activity, as his mother works long hours as a seamstress. Despite her busy schedule, though, she dreams of taking her son to her hometown in Vietnam to meet her mother. Meanwhile, Tiến struggles to discuss his sexuality with his parents (“The librarian and I couldn’t find the word for it in Vietnamese”) and navigate his feelings for male best friend Julian, even with the encouragement of best friend Claire. Alternating between Tiến and Hiến, the narrative intertwines Western and Vietnamese fairy tales, including “Tấm Cám”—“our ‘Cinderella’ ”—and a nuanced retooling of Hans Christian Andersen’s “The Little Mermaid.” Detailed illustrations rendered in split complementary colors cleverly distinguish each story line. Nguyen’s poignant debut captures the perspectives of, and essence of the bond between, a parent and child, proving that language—and love—can transcend words. Back matter includes author’s notes that delve into personal inspiration, the interplay between immigration stories and fairy tales, and contextualize the illustrations. Final art not seen by PW. Ages 12–up. Agent: Kate McKean, Howard Morhaim Literary.

  • The Horn Book

    January 1, 2021
    In this imaginative graphic novel, thirteen-year-old Vietnamese American boy Tin and his Vietnamese-refugee seamstress mother, Hin, have always loved stories, with the two often reading library books aloud while enjoying time together. Nguyen (a comic artist also known as Trungles) delves into the world of Vietnamese fairy tales, including "Cinderella" and "The Little Mermaid" variants. Themes from these works -- parent-child struggles, unrequited love, and the timeless quest to attain one's innermost desires, for example -- are reflected in the versions of the illustrated retellings Tin reads and in his day-to-day life at home and school, including his secret crush on a male classmate. Nguyen's artistry radiates elegance on every page. Pastel shades of red, brown, and purple alternate to signify present, past, and imaginative plot segments. While some panels feature characters in pensive curiosity or profound melancholy, others burst with vibrancy, their exquisite portraits spanning an entire page or across multiple panels. Infused with emotional depth and integrity, this coming-of-age story broadens the range of Vietnamese American creative voices in books for young people.

    (Copyright 2021 by The Horn Book, Incorporated, Boston. All rights reserved.)

  • The Horn Book

    Starred review from January 1, 2021
    In this imaginative graphic novel, thirteen-year-old Vietnamese American boy Tin and his Vietnamese-refugee seamstress mother, Hin, have always loved stories, with the two often reading library books aloud while enjoying time together. Nguyen (a comic artist also known as Trungles) delves into the world of Vietnamese fairy tales, including "Cinderella" and "The Little Mermaid" variants. Themes from these works -- parent-child struggles, unrequited love, and the timeless quest to attain one's innermost desires, for example -- are reflected in the versions of the illustrated retellings Tin reads and in his day-to-day life at home and school, including his secret crush on a male classmate. Nguyen's artistry radiates elegance on every page. Pastel shades of red, brown, and purple alternate to signify present, past, and imaginative plot segments. While some panels feature characters in pensive curiosity or profound melancholy, others burst with vibrancy, their exquisite portraits spanning an entire page or across multiple panels. Infused with emotional depth and integrity, this coming-of-age story broadens the range of Vietnamese American creative voices in books for young people. Jerry Dear

    (Copyright 2021 by The Horn Book, Incorporated, Boston. All rights reserved.)

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    Random House Children's Books
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The Magic Fish
(A Graphic Novel)
Trung Le Nguyen
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