"Father, is all of the world a refugee camp?"
Young Kalia has never known life beyond the fences of the Ban Vinai Refugee Camp. The Thai camp holds many thousands of Hmong families who fled in the aftermath of the little-known Secret War in Laos that was waged during America's Vietnam War. For Kalia and her cousins, life isn't always easy, but they still find ways to play, racing with chickens and riding a beloved pet dog.
Just four years old, Kalia is still figuring out her place in the world. When she asks what is beyond the fence, at first her father has no answers for her. But on the following day, he leads her to the tallest tree in the camp and, secure in her father's arms, Kalia sees the spread of a world beyond.
Kao Kalia Yang's sensitive prose and Rachel Wada's evocative illustrations bring to life this tender true story of the love between a father and a daughter.
Available on NetGalley
Average rating from 41 members
Wow! This was a good, short read that was perfect to teach kids about the different refugee camps. It was heartbreaking that the little girl didn’t know life outside of the camp. The illustrations were good, and the story was easy to read.
Wow! What a profound little book! Both my children and I really enjoyed it. The artwork is beautiful and the prose is a small memoir of the author's from when they were a child, in a refuge camp in Thailand. I enjoyed learning about a history that I was not aware of and thankful to the author for sharing her own personal experiences to help us all be a little more conscious of what was going in then, beyond the Vietnam War. This fantastic read would be an excellent addition to a children's history unit study with it's mesmerizing illustrations and simple, yet impactful, composition.
From the gorgeous cover and the dedication page, you can already tell this is going to be a special book. We are welcomed into the memories of a young girl named Kalia, whose family is living in a refugee camp for Hmong people in Thailand. Their situation is unpleasant, but not horrible, at least through this child's eyes. They are surviving, together. One day Kalia asks what's beyond the fences of their compound, and in response, her father indulges her with a climb up the highest tree in the camp to show her what lies beyond. It's a beautiful gesture, and her mother captures the moment with a borrowed camera. And this is where the tears started, at least for me. The next page is no longer the beautiful watercolor illustrations we've been seeing, but the ACTUAL PHOTO taken by her mother back in 1985. The reality of Kalia's childhood hit me like a bucket of cold water. It was both sweet and sorrowful, hopeful and painful. Do your conscience a favor, and step into Kalia's childhood shoes for a little while. Read this book, and understand just how thankful you should be for your imperfect, but relatively safe, life. Then let her message inspire you to do more and be more for those escaping war.
Kalia's father helps her to gain perspective of their refugee camp in Thailand. The wording in this book is simple and not preachy. It really made me think about and appreciate the life that I have; but this book is not preachy, just simply beautifully realistic. The illustrations in this book are superb. Beautiful, creative, uniquely different. Thank you to NetGalley, the publisher (Lerner Publishing Group), the author Kao Kalia Yang and the illustrator Rachel Wada. Publication date is 05 Oct 2021. Very well done. I would buy this book for my niece and nephew.
This gem of a picture book captures one incident from Yang's life as a young girl in the refugee camp in Thailand where she was born. As a four-year-old, she didn't understand the war that had forced her Hmong family to flee Vietnam; she had no concept of a world beyond the boundaries of the camp. She tells the story of special day, captured in a photo she still has, when her father carried her to the top of a tree and showed her a world she had never seen before. He instilled in her a hope that she would grow up to travel and see that world for herself. Few refugee stories focus on children born in the camps. Beautifully illustrated. Highly recommended.
Such a lovely book. I was intrigued by the cover and the beautiful illustrations but once I started reading it became evident that there was so much more to this book. Based on the real life experiences of the author who was born and spent her early childhood years in a refugee camp in Thailand we get just a small glimpse into what life was like for her family. The writing flows well and the pictures are just gorgeous ❤️
This was a beautiful book based on the author's real experience climbing with her father to the top of the tallest tree in Ban Vinai Refugee Camp where she was born. The illustrations are not only textured beautifully but convey the wonder, curiosity, and excitement of childhood and familial love as well as the grief and gravity of life in the refugee camp.
I was provided an e-ARC of From the Tops of the Trees by NetGalley and Lerner Publishing in exchange for a review. From the Tops of the Trees is about four year old Kalia who lives with her family in a refugee camp in the time of the Vietnam War. Kalia, who has never seen the world outside the refugee camp, wants to know what is in the world outside the fences. I loved this little book. The illustrations and storytelling are beautiful, and I loved that the author chose to write it as a nonfiction book about herself and her family. The book may seem like it ends suddenly, but make sure to read the author's note. From the Tops of the Trees would be a beautiful addition to any library!
Kalia was born in the Ban Vinai Refugee Camp and has lived there her entire four years of life. In this we see her day to day, of playing with her cousins and the animals around them, the dogs and chickens. This story really tugged at my heart especially because this is told from the child’s point of view. As an adult, we can understand the fears and the struggle but children are so innocent and deserve to be. When her dad took her to the top of the tree to show her just how big the world is and that there was more out there for her, I teared up. This was a powerful story and a wonderful book for kids to read. It’s good for kids to read about a different point of view, to see some of the harshness of the world but in a lens they can digest. The art inside was beautiful too and really captured my attention so I know it will easily hold a child’s! I definitely recommend this to everyone, no matter your age. 5/5⭐️
From the Tops of the Trees is a powerful, true story of one child’s experience in the Ban Vinai Refugee Camp, a result of the Secret War in Laos that occurred during America’s Vietnam War. Speaking to histories untold and an ode to the Hmong refugees displaced as a result of the war, Kao Kalia Yang weaves a deeply moving story about Kalia’s relationship with her father, the impact of war on children, and how the child mind is resiliently hopeful even through the darkest periods of human history. "Father, is all of the world a refugee camp?" Kao Kalia Yang’s lyrical prose is accompanied by Rachel Wada’s luscious illustrations. Wada's use of a warm color palette creates a sense of safety within Kalia's oppressed community, as well as fortifies a connection between each community member and nature. As Kalia journeys up the tree on her father’s back, Wada depicts the dappled light shining through the tree’s leaves, marking father and daughter with rays of hope in the shape of foliage; rays of light beam through the tree’s leaves, the trees whose fruit sustains Kalia and her family, protects them, and offers them a hopeful view of life within and outside of the refugee camp. The author’s note, pronunciation guide and map at the conclusion of the book remind readers how very personal and very real this story is. Readers -- adults and children alike --will immerse themselves in a story overshadowed by America’s Vietnam War, bringing us one step closer to decolonizing history and opening ourselves to stories that decenter the Western-centric experience. Books are our way to freedom, and this picture book is filled with words and images that portray the heartbreak of a child living through war, the small comforts and resilience found within war-torn communities, as well as the hope everyone clings to in order to survive. Thank you to #netgalley for this advanced reader's copy. This is actually my first time reviewing an ARC. What a gorgeous, touching book to start with. https://www.borikenbooksymas.com/post/review-from-the-tops-of-the-trees-written-by-kao-kalia-yang-illustrated-by-rachel-wada
Another beautiful and sweet true story by Kao Kalia Yang. While her previous book, The Most Beautiful Thing, was a tribute to her grandmother, this one spotlights her relationship with her father and their experiences in the refugee camp, Ban Vinai. This picture book memoir does not scrimp on the hardships of her family's life in the Vietnam War, but Yang's narrative is gentle and accessible for young readers. The graphite and watercolor illustrations are sometimes overlaid and blended and gives a dreamlike quality to the pictures, reminding us that the story is told from memory.
An endearing look at the life of a child within a refugee camp. The basis of the story is the photo taken of the author and her father at the top of a tree, looking out at the world around them. Beautiful illustrations that add to the story being told.
This beautifully illustrated, moving picture book is based on the author's childhood experience of growing up in a refugee camp. The book portrays details related to life in a refugee camp, what it means for a child to grow up without any sense of the world beyond, and the sacrifices that parents make to help their children have the best possible chance at life. This book has wonderful art and text, and powerfully conveys both the authors' personal experience and elements that universalize to refugees everywhere. I would highly recommend this to families, classrooms, and libraries, and am grateful that I had a chance to read it.
What do I know about wars? And refugee camps? Nothing. This book opened my eyes on how the people live on refugee camp. How scarce are the food, and how the uncertainty loomed over their life. Even though the story was told from the point of view of a kid, who spend her time playing happily with her siblings and friends, still the situation is not the same as what I see daily. Years after quitting the camp and moving to the US, the author now shares her memories of her childhood in the form of this picture book. Not only partaking the story of her childhood, but we can also learn how difficult the life in the camp can be, thus be more compassionate to those emerging from one.
From the Top of The Trees is about a young girl Kalia who has never seen the world beyond the refugee camp. Kalia plays with her cousins and dogs under the trees. They don't have very easy lives, but children somehow know how to enjoy themselves and make the best of the situation. I'm from a small town in India, and although we don't live in a refugee camp: the scorching sun and playing under the shade of the tree, the dogs, and the cutest father-daughter relationship hit too close to home. It was like I was reading the story of a little girl next door, or rather, my own. The book is beautiful throughout, but, when I turned to the last page, it gave me literal goosebumps. I had suspected it was a real story since the protagonist and the author had the same name, but still. I felt awesome knowing that it is a person's real story and that person has grown up and doing great in life. Last but not the least, the illustrations by Rachel Wada. From the cover to the last page of the book, the art is mesmerizing. The sketching, colors, and scenery are all perfectly balanced and well put together.It puts soul into the beautiful story that the author has woven.
Many teachers (including me) find that discussing and navigating the issue of refugees, conflicts, and justice with young students to be challenging. How do you share with the kids about families--children like them--having to flee from the safety of their homes to live in camps where they have their foods rationed, their existence debated, and their futures uncertain? This is why picture books like this one matter. It acts like a window for the kids to start to understand a little bit about the complex issue. It talks about how the love between the parents and their children, and the hope that keeps them going each day. So beautifully written and illustrated.