This amazing graphic novel shattered my heart and put the pieces back together multiple times as I was reading. Tien, a first generation teen of Vietnamese parents, is helping his mother learn English by reading fairy tales with her each night. The parallels between the stories they read together and the hardships they face in day-to-day life were touching to read and beautiful to see translated through art. Jumping from Tien trying to find the right words to say to tell his parents he is gay to a story about a princess who forges a marriage contract with an old man that requires he provide three dresses made of the sky, The Magic Fish by Trung Le Nguyen is a perfect mix of classic fairytales and unique real-world themes magically intertwined through gorgeous imagery. — Miranda, Assistant Book Buyer — From Teens & YA | Remarkable Reads 2021
Fall 2020 Kids Indie Next List
“Tien connects with his mother through the fairy tales they read together to improve their English. As he finds escape in the stories, he tries to find the words to tell his parents he’s gay. Meanwhile, his mother’s memories of her family and home in Vietnam are awakened by the stories she reads with her son. Beautifully done and truly magical.”
— Myles Mickle, Village Square Booksellers, Bellows Falls, VT
NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR by New York Public Library • Kirkus Reviews • Booklist • Publishers Weekly
In this gorgeous debut graphic novel, fairy tales are the only way one boy can communicate with his Vietnamese immigrant parents. But how will he find the words to tell them that he’s gay? A powerful read about family, identity and the enduring magic of stories.
“One of the most astounding graphic novels of the year" –Entertainment Weekly
Tien and his mother may come from different cultures—she’s an immigrant from Vietnam still struggling with English; he’s been raised in America—but through the fairy tales he checks out from the local library, those differences are erased.
But as much as Tien’s mother’s English continues to improve as he reads her tales of love, loss, and travel across distant shores, there’s one conversation that still eludes him—how to come out to her and his father. Is there even a way to explain what he’s going through in Vietnamese? And without a way to reveal his hidden self, how will his parents ever accept him?
This beautifully illustrated graphic novel speaks to the complexity of family and how stories can bring us together even when we don’t know the words.
“A lyrical masterpiece.” –BuzzFeed
About the Author
Trung Le Nguyen, also known as Trungles, is a comic book artist and illustrator working out of Minnesota. He received his BA from Hamline University in 2012, majoring in Studio Art with a concentration in oil painting and minoring in Art History. He has contributed work for Oni Press, BOOM! Studios, Limerence Press, and Image Comics. He is particularly fond of fairy tales, kids' cartoons, and rom-coms of all stripes. The Magic Fish is his debut graphic novel.
A Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books 2020 Blue Ribbon Selection
“[A] gorgeously drawn…story of a first-generation Vietnamese American who is struggling with coming out to his parents.” —Forbes
“A sparkling debut…about the child of Vietnamese immigrants who teaches through fairy tales—yet wrestles with how to come out to his family.” —The Washington Post
"Infused with emotional depth and integrity, this coming-of-age story broadens the range of Vietnamese American creative voices in books for young people.” —The Horn Book, Starred Review
“Warm, loving family and friends are a refreshing alternative to immigrant stories that focus on family problems. Beautifully illustrates how sharing old stories can be the best way to learn how to share new ones.” —Kirkus Reviews, Starred Review
“The magic happens here on every page, the perfection personified by debut author/artist Nguyen’s autobiographical homage to the infinite power of storytelling.” —Booklist, Starred Review
“Nguyen’s poignant debut captures the perspectives of, and essence of the bond between, a parent and child, proving that language—and love—can transcend words.” —Publishers Weekly, Starred Review
“How do you tell stories within stories within stories? Ask Trung Le Nguyen, who seamlessly blends family history, fairy tales, and a 1998 coming-out tale in this remarkable intergenerational graphic novel.” —The Bulletin, Starred Review