Vy’s Special Gift by Ha-Giang Trinh, illustrated by Evi Shelvia
Vy rushes in the morning to reach the line to get rice. She is running late, but still gets a spot. Set in Vietnam during Covid, she wears and mask and stands in line on the marked spot to be socially distanced from others. The line is very long and everyone is tired. Ahead of her in line is a woman with a baby and a small boy. Vy sings to the baby, a lullaby to get him to settle. She reads the little boy a poem of rice and rain. Then the two of them draw a picture together that they give to an older woman in line. Vy lets the woman go ahead of her in line, but when Vy reaches the end, there is no more rice. But the small kindnesses she performed in line come back to her in rice for her family.
Trinh tells this story with a real grace. She shows the poverty and need with frankness while also showing how small acts of kindness in the midst of a pandemic can make all the difference in people’s lives. The story has a genuine quality to it, the acts of kindness are thoughtful and realistic as is the final sharing of rice amongst everyone who was impacted by Vy’s kindness. The text is written in a mix of narration and speech bubbles, combined with poetry and song lyrics.
Shelvin’s illustrations embrace the mixtures of texts, highlighting the song and poem with freshly bright colors of bright pinks, yellows and blues. The majority of the book is done in a subtle color palette with golds, pale blue and gray.
A quiet and lovely look at the pandemic and everyday kindness in a crisis. Appropriate for ages 4-6.
Reviewed from e-galley provided by the author.