A TRUE TALE WITH
A CHERRY ON TOP
(pub.4.4.2023) 56 pages
Author: Kristen Mai Giang
Illustrator: Dow Phumiruk
Characters: Kristen Mai Giang's family
" On April 24, 1975 the last flight out of Saigon, Vietnam carried over 400 people to the United States, six days before Saigon’s surrender to the North Vietnamese Army.
Kristen Giang was a little girl, on that flight with family, and here in this story she shares all the emotions of the decision to flee from the perspective of someone eight years old; Playing a game of space-explorers to protect herself and her sister’s eyes from tear gas; sneaking a stuffed animal into the family’s overstuffed suitcase for comfort.
Dow Phumiruk’s tender illustrations let anyone feel the excitement and the ultimate hopefulness of this amazing true story."
" Our last night we slept at Ba's work.
Buses would take us to the airport in the morning.
We huddled and hid by a metal desk. I helped the little ones stay quiet.
So no one would hear us, and stop us from leaving.
The next morning, I watched through the window as Saigon rolled away.
Everything I ever knew."
And something more: Kristen Mai Giang in the Author's Note explains: "This is the story of my family's escape ... It wasn't until decades later that I discovered we were on the dramatic last commercial flight out.
The experiences are cobbled together from memories relayed by my parents... my sister... Allan Topping... additional flight crew and personnel, and other accounts of the flight and the war in general...
The historic details of the flight itself and the events leading up to it are true. Ultimately, I wanted to highlight what seemed to me the real miracle of this story - the simple and sometimes stunning ways people choose to help each other."
Touching dedications: Kristen Mai Giang:
"For my sister Linh, who gave me this story.
For Mom and Dad, who gave us everything.
For Allan Topping and the flight crew, who gave us a chance."
Dow Phumiruk (who's also the amazing illustrator of our MAYA LIN: Artist-Architect of Light and Lines): "For refugee families, past and present.'"