Book Review: Wishes – Mượn Thị Văn and Victo Ngai

Author(s): Mượn Thị Văn (author), Victo Ngai (illustrator)
Publisher: Scholastic UK
Publication date: July 2021
About the publisher: “We believe that independent reading is a critical part of children’s learning and growth. With support from teachers, parents and schools, children choose from Scholastic the books they want to read, and discover the pleasure and power of reading. Finding the right book at the right time can light an emotional spark within children that motivates them to read more, understand more and read joyfully. When that happens, the world opens and everything becomes possible.

(Taken from the Scholastic website)


Wishes tells the powerful, honest story about one Vietnamese family’s search for a new home on the other side of the world, and the long-lasting and powerful impact that makes on the littlest member of the family.

Inspired by actual events in the author’s life, this is a narrative that is both timely and timeless. Told through the eyes of a young girl, the story chronicles a family’s difficult and powerful journey to pack up what they can carry and to leave their world behind, traveling to a new and unknown place in a crowded boat.


It is virtually impossible to read Wishes without getting a bit choked up. It takes talent to compose a book consisting of only 75 words and have them make such a huge impact on the reader. When paired with absolutely stunning illustrations, Wishes becomes a story you’ll want to return to again and again – regardless of your age.

Wishes is a true reflection of what Thị Văn experienced when fleeing Vietnam with her family as a child; the constant wishes for something better, something calmer, a life without fear. There is something lulling about Thị Văn’s story as you travel with her across the sea.

Just one of the stunning illustrations by Victo Ngai

When reading about Thị Văn and her process of writing Wishes, I came across this snippet in an article on We Need Diverse Books where she explains:

I hope this book will remind every reader of our common humanity. I hope that for young readers, in particular, it will help open that young reader’s heart, a heart which is still full of love and generosity, a heart that is still a stranger to phrases like, “Go back” and “You don’t belong here.”

I Wrote Wishes so Readers Could See What It’s Like To Be a Refugee

Aimed at 4-7 year olds, it’s never too early to start conversations with young people about compassion. I’d love to see Wishes in schools and libraries everywhere – a short story with an extremely important message. Absolutely beautiful and highly recommended.

Many thanks to Scholastic for providing a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Order now

You can support your local bookshop by buying Wishes through them directly, or via Hive.

Comment below

What do you think of Wishes? Will you be reading it? Let me know in the comments below.

Wishing you a wonderfully bookish week,


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