My Footprints, by Bao Phi/Illustrated by Basia Tran, (Sept. 2019. Capstone), $19.99, ISBN: 9781684460007
Thuy is a biracial child with two moms who feels “double different”. Walking home one winter afternoon, she tries to ignore the bullies who go at her, but she’s frustrated – and then she sees a bird, which takes her away from the bullies and into the air, soaring like the bird; from there, she wonders about taking on characteristics of other animals: sprinting like a deer; roaring like a bear; anything that can help her channel her frustration. She arrives home to her moms, Momma Ngoc and Momma Arti, and talks with them as the three walk together, creating all sorts of footprints: a phoenix, a Sarabha from Hindu mythology, even a new creature that leaves heart-shaped footprints in the snow, as Thuy walks between her mothers.
This is a quietly captivating book about imagination and family; about taking power away from bullies by talking things out with family, and gaining strength from coming together. Using mythological animals like a phoenix, which rises from its ashes, and a Sarabha, a powerful beast with the ability to leap great distances, is a nod to both Thuy’s and her mothers’ Asian and Southeast Asian backgrounds. These animals also let readers follow Thuy further into an imaginary world where she – and we – can channel the strength of these creatures into ourselves when faced with adversity.
Beautifully told, beautifully illustrated, My Footprints is a solid addition to picture book collections.
Author Bao Phi is the award-winning author of 2017’s A Different Pond. Find out more about his books and poetry at his author website. See more of illustrator Basia Tran’s artwork at her webpage.