Cover Image: Cricket War, The

Cricket War, The

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Member Reviews

Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for an electronic copy to read in exchange for an honest review.

This book hit me right in the heart. My eldest child is the same age as Tho is at the start of the book so it was all too real to imagine what Tho and his family felt at the separation. In addition, my husband and his parents were also Boat People leaving Vietnam to Canada via a year in a refugee camp in the early 1980s. I will forever be thankful to Tho Pham for sharing his story with such a well written book. Thank you.

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Based on Tho Pham's real-life experience, this story about sneaking out of Vietnam, living at sea, living in a refugee camp is sure to open many children's eyes to a unique experience and a forgotten piece of history. This was a captivating read. Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for an advanced e-reader copy in exchange for an honest review.

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The Cricket War is co-author Thọ Phạm's personal journey and it’s a testament to human resilience. I cannot imagine fleeing Vietnam alone at 11, to finding hope in a new home. Sandra McTavish's co-authorship brings added depth and authenticity to this poignant tale.

As readers, we embark on a gripping journey alongside 11-year-old Thọ Phạm, set against the backdrop of Communist Vietnam in 1980. Thọ spends his days playing soccer and engaging in cricket fights with friends, but life takes a drastic turn under the tightening grip of the Communists. When Thọ's father reveals that arrangements have been made for him to escape Vietnam by boat, the young boy faces a harrowing journey into the unknown.

Co-authors Tho Pham and Sandra McTavish, childhood friends, created this historical fiction novel based on Thọ's real-life experience as one of the Vietnamese Boat People. The story draws from factual details of his perilous voyage across the South China Sea and his time in a Philippine refugee camp.

I loved the authenticity in this story. The vivid depictions of pirate attacks, hunger, and loneliness make this survival story riveting. Readers will empathize with the plight of refugees. The themes of hope and resilience really stood out to me. Thọ's courage and determination shine through, even in the darkest moments. His eventual adoption by a Canadian elementary school teacher adds a note of hope.

Thank you to NetGalley and Kids Can Press for a temporary e-ARC in exchange for my honest review.

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This is a refugee story of an older time. The age and experiences of the central protagonist and everyone connected to him were different from the more recent ones. There was a more formal arrangement of people fleeing communist Vietnam in order. All able-bodied men were called up to serve when they reached a certain age, and the families try to prevent this by shipping them off to countries that take in the refugees, and hopefully, there will be a better life in their futures. They may even be able to get more of their family to join them at some point if everything goes well. The cricket war in the title is a reference to the pastime that children engage in between the worry for the people who have left, the ones who remain behind and the general troubles of school life.
Once the escape occurs, life at sea is not as one would expect. The weather did not cooperate, and the concept of pirates and their actions were hard to imagine.
It is written in a manner better suited to a younger audience to be able to introduce the concept to them. I found it a little slower at times than I would have hoped, but it brought a whole new time and place to light for me, and I assume it would do so for other people as well!
I received an ARC thanks to NetGalley and the publishers but the review is entirely based on my own reading experience.

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The Cricket War is a novel based on Tho Pham’s and other Vietnamese refugees’ experiences fleeing their country in the 70s and 80s. Tho is our main character, who is 12 years old when he leaves on this journey alone. The authors did a great job giving a child’s perspective and feelings while also giving a lot of historical information. This is a part of history I didn’t previously know much about. When considering this book for your child, note that there is discussion of death and violence. Thank you to NetGalley and Kids Can Press for giving me this ARC in exchange for my honest review.

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Heartbreaking story of fleeing Vietnam in 1981. Boys are being press ganged into service in the Vietnamese Army and so parents are paying to get their sons out of Vietnam. Unfortunately the escape route is to leave in unreliable boats where the refugees are constantly tormented by pirates who search them and then may feed them relentlessly until they are rescued by an outside rescue agency and set up in one of many refugee camps where they wait endlessly for sponsorship into North America. Tho makes this journey for the most part completely alone as a young eleven/twelve year old until he is sponsored by his elder brother's Canadian sponsor. Loosely based on the author's own escape from Vietnam.

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Wow!!! This book was phenomenal. I loved Tho and his gumption and his attempt to keep himself safe. I love that Tho ended up in Canada too. Growing up I knew a man who was a "boat people" from Vietnam in my small community. This was an incredibly impactful book imagining his journey. This book made me so grateful for my life, freedom, country, and family.

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This is a very moving, mostly true story of a young Vietnamese Boat Person. This isn't an area of history that I see covered very much and I think there should be more about it. What Tho (the character and the man) went through is so horrible and he is so brave to have gone through it and to share his story.

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I knew a little about the Vietnamese Boat People but not enough as I feel I should so this book is a good place to start. The story follows 12 year old Tho Pham and his journey to Canada, having had to flee his home in South Vietnam, where life under the Communists was rapidly changing. Boys and young men are being called, without warning, to join the fighting and so Tho Pham's family make the brave decision to send him away by buying him a spot on one of the boats crossing the South China Sea. The trip is filled with danger from pirates, starvation, lack of water and illness and Tho faces all of this without his family, alone but for the people he meets along the way.

This is a fascinating story, which deserves to be read by as many people as possible. The parallels with the crises facing refugees across the world today can not be ignored and shouldn't be. This may have happened a few decades ago but it is very much still happening today and the sooner refugees from all over get the help they need, the better.

This story is beautifully written and the descriptions put you right in the middle of what's going on. Well worth reading.

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This story, based on true events, is stunning. Every time I pick up something that helps me understand what my dad experienced in his journey from Vietnam, I feel so heartbroken and so humbled. This book is beautiful. It is simple. It is powerful. I’m finding that Vietnamese stories from a child’s point of view have a unique way of opening my eyes to the grim reality of what happened. History books may elicit a stronger response, but books like this one have more saliency.

I’m grateful for this e-ARC from Kids Can Press and NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. I look forward to sharing this book alongside my dad’s own story with my children someday.

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I loved this book! Learning more about Vietnam after the US left was eye opening for me. The adventures, both the exciting ones and the heart breaking ones, were genuine and evoked lots of emotion. Thank you to Net Galley and the publisher for allowing me to read this advance copy.

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This book loosely follows the true story of the author Tho Pham and his journey from his home in Vietnam to his new life in Canada.

The young boy spends his days playing sport with his friends, and collecting crickets to teach them how to fight each other. This is interrupted due to the conscription happening in their country, so many families are trying to send away their young boys to avoid them fighting in the war. The book follows as he becomes a refugee at sea until he finds a home in Canada.

As this book is set around war and refugee boats/camps some of the events can be quite distressing for younger readers so I would suggest it for late middle school-high school readers. However it is well written and contains valuable insight into the people living through these pivotal moments in history.

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I absolutely LOVED The Cricket War by Tho Pham and Sandra McTavish. The book introduced readers to life in Vietnam in the 1980s with the threat of conscription of young men into the Communist army looming. Our main character, Tho, knows that others sometimes "disappear", fleeing Vietnam for the chance at a better life - and he also knows that they don't all make it. Tho's brother leaves on a boat but the family can't afford to send Tho at the same time. Then, at 12 years old, his mother takes him to his aunt's where transport out of Vietnam has been arranged. His is on his own.

The book follows Tho's harrowing journey out of Vietnam and his eventual arrival in Canda. It is based on the real-life journey made by Tho Pham in the 1980s, combine with the stories of other Vietnamese Boat People who also fled Vietnam. The story is both eye-opening and heartbreaking. The story moves quickly and is well-written . It shares about a period of history that not everyone knows about (this reader included) and will appeal to a wide range of readers. I highly recommend this book.

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Thank you so much to Kids Can Press and Netgalley for the ebook to read and review.

Tho’s family want him safe from the communists that have taken over Vietnam. Having to find the money and put him on board a boat alone, he goes on multiple boats on a long journey, all before going to Palawan refugee camp.

This was such a different piece of history that I really enjoyed reading, the story was so heartbreaking throughout. Reading at the end that this was based on real life makes the story that much heavier. It was written really beautifully and you could feel everything that Tho was going through on this journey.

I loved learning so much about this era in history, learning of how everyone was struggling, that the communists took over and constrained the teens into being part of them, of how families had to get separated so they were safe if they could even afford to send anyone over. The scary journeys on the boats with the rocky waters, lack of food and water, the pirate raids everyday, risk of being captured by the communists. Then to be stuck in a refugee camp for a while still not getting to the locations they dreamed of. It’s was hard hitting and impactful.

There was so much in this story, the way it was written was vivid that it felt like you were with Tho. His story is really scary, really heart wrecking, he was such a brave boy who had to go through so much all to find safety. He had to leave his family, his life all so he wasn’t given a bad life in Vietnam. He had to go on so many risky boat journeys with fear raiding his mind never knowing what the outcome would be at all. It was so scary but I was really intrigued how it was all going to come about and what was awaiting him at each chapter.

If you enjoy learning about history then you’ll really love this, you’ll learn so much and it will tug at your heart the whole time. You will be really invested in learning what is going to happen to young Tho, you’ll be scared with him and proud of him too. You’ll also learn some of his language as you read too. I highly recommend this to any history fans, it’s an enjoyable yet sad read.

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The Cricket War
By Tho Pham
October 3, 2023

This is a story loosely based on the author’s true events.
Eleven year old Tho spends his time playing soccer and cricket fighting with his friends in Vietnam. Before the Communist army comes knocking at their door, Tho and his brother are forced to leave on a boat and must endure some very traumatic events in order to make it to Canada.
Their journey is distressing, just imagining an eleven year old boy having to deal with it is so heart wrenching. It’s a book everyone should read.

Thanks to NetGalley and Kids Can Press for the advanced readers edition in exchange for an honest review.

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Very gorgeous cover and it’s something that diverse readers of any age would be interested in.

Thoughtful and astonishing read. Would definitely recommend to diverse book lovers like me!

Thank you publisher for this wonderful free copy. I will cherish this for a very long time and I hope this reaches many more readers globally!

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Thank you for this advanced copy.

This book was beautiful and powerful. Not to mention the cover art was pretty.

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Absolutely astounding book -- though most of the story is based off the authors story -- it does combine in many other Vietnamese peoples stories that he knew. I think this book is very important to the education system and could be read by anyone of any age. Myself -- I was born and was growing up in Canada while these events were happening and I was never taught anything this , Asian history or the plight of those living in these countries. The book is also very relevant to todays society as many people are trying to escape their home countries still and this gives us an idea of what it is like for them . This book has forever changed my understanding of the world and as the author is now a Canadian citizen the stories of how the immigrants get to Canada should be taught as it is a part of our ever growing quilt of multicultural history . This is a must read book ! -- highly recommended ! Tho`s Journey from Vietnam, his time at sea on the boat --holding out for someone to help them -- , to the time at the refuge camp --to arriving in Canada. A very harrowing journey that we should all go on and learn about through this book.!

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A young boys experience leaving Vietnam in 1980/1981.

Our church sponsored a family from Vietnam in the 1980’s, but I’ve never read or know details about their or "boat peoples" journey from oppression.

I thought this story was written very well; it held my attention as an adult.

The story is a combination of Tho Pham's story with the assistance/writing by Sandra McTavish. Some characters in the story are composites, but the author provides significant detail in explaining the different characters. I'm so very glad that these authors took the time to share this story. I had no idea. Please find the time to read this book!

Many thanks to NetGalley for the opportunity to review the advance read copy in exchange for an honest review. Many thanks to the authors. Thank you to Kids Can Press (the publisher) for approving my advance read copy request.

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Although this based-on-a-true-story has some heavy-hitting themes: war, death, family separation, and refugee camps, the tone throughout is hopeful. The issues Tho faces, although unique to his situation, are told in an honest, relatable way that makes this book an excellent addition to both school and public libraries.

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