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A Lao Story of Home

by Youme Landowne
illustrated by Youme Landowne
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2011 Skipping Stones Honor Award
How to begin again?
Fleeing war, a child finds strength in memories of home and family.

Product Details

10-digit ISBN1-933693-68-1
13-digit ISBN9781933693682
Page Count40
Product Dimensions9" x 9" x .25"
Publication DateNovember 1, 2010
RightsAll Rights Available
Youme tells the true story of artist Mali Jai Dee, whose family was forced by civil war to flee Laos when she was five. Mali’s story reveals the strength of family and culture to carry a child through unthinkable hardship.

Mali Under the Night Sky is the true story of Laotian-American artist Malichansouk Kouanchao, whose family was forced by civil war to flee Laos when she was five. Before the war began, Mali lived an idyllic life in a community where she felt safe and was much loved. She loved to sit in front of her house and ask everyone who passed by, “Where are you going?” She herself went everywhere too—climbing on the flowering trees, catching tiny fish in a rice field, looking for pale bamboo shoots in the dark forest. She loved the time she spent with her family, napping in the hot afternoons, making feasts and coming together on special days to celebrate. But the coming war caused her family to flee to another country and a life that was less than ideal. What did she carry with her? She carried her memories. And they in turn carried her across the world, sharing where she is from and all that she loves with the people she meets.

Youme Landowne is an energetic and joyful painter, book artist and activist who thrives in the context of public art. Youme has lived in and learned from the U.S., Kenya, Japan, Laos, Haiti and Cuba. In all of these places, she has worked with communities and individuals to make art that honors personal and cultural wisdom, creating community murals, illustrating tiny books, and teaching poetry in the schools.
Publisher's Weekly
A Laotian girl's life takes a cruel turn in this haunting yet hopeful tale based on the childhood of Laotian-American artist Malichansouk Kouanchao. Sunny watercolors with patterned borders illuminate the simple joys of Mali's early life, when the world was "full of wonderful things." She climbs trees, helps prepare feasts, and participates in the tradition of tying strings around the wrists of family and friends, "a way of showing that their hearts would always be together." Landowne smoothly includes several Laotian words and phrases in this deeply felt and gently told story.
Book Dragon
Today, December 7, marks the 69th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor, “a date which will live in infamy,” as forever coined by Franklin D. Roosevelt. Seven decades later, infamy lives on, stealing childhoods, families, homes, lives. Now as another year comes to a close, we pray for peace … again and again … again and again … [Mali Under the Night Sky] is another hopeful, urgent prayer …
- Terry Hong, December 7, 2010 
full review >>
Midwest Book Review
Mali Under the Night Sky: A Lao Story of Home is not an ordinary picturebook - it tells the true story of a little girl named Mali, who had to journey with her family from Laos to Thailand when she was five to escape the deadly toll of a war without borders. When they finally come to a different country, they are imprisoned. As heartrending as the story is, it also offers a glimmer of hope in the love people have for their homeland and each other. Mali Under the Night Sky is a soul-stirring picturebook about the difficulties faced by wartime refugees, and deserves the highest recommendation. (Featured as Reviewer's Choice)
With a spare first-person narrative and affecting watercolor-wash illustrations, this biography by the author of Sélavi, That Is Life: A Haitian Story of Hope (2004) tells of a family’s escape from civil war in Laos.
- Hazel Rochman, January 1, 2011 
full review >>
El Paso Scene
Mali’s life as a young girl in Laos was surrounded by love, tight family bonds and rich cultural experiences, but was also filled with the hardship and trials of growing up in country torn by civil war.
- Lisa Kay Tate, 
full review >>
Youme beautifully renders the true story of Malichansouk Kouanchao, who, the flyleaf tells us, “walked from Laos to Thailand when she was five years old.”
- Charlotte Richardson, 
full review >>
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