The Artwork of Thi Bui

h1 July 20th, 2017 by jules


— From Thi Bui’s The Best We Could Do: An Illustrated Memoir


 


“The streetlights look brighter and the roads aren’t so busy before the sun comes up.
Dad turns on the heater and tells me stories. A kid at my school said my dad’s English sounds like a thick, dirty river. But to me his English sounds like gentle rain.”
— From Bao Phi’s
A Different Pond, illustrated by Thi Bui
(Click to enlarge spread)


 

Last week over at Kirkus, author and poet Bao Phi and I talked here about his debut picture book, A Different Pond (Capstone, August 2017), illustrated by Thi Bui.

In March of this year, Thi also released her debut graphic novel, The Best We Could Do: An Illustrated Memoir (Abrams), the story of her family’s escape after the fall of South Vietnam in the 1970s and the rebuilding of their lives in America.

I’ve got art here at 7-Imp today from both books.



 

From Bao Phi’s A Different Pond:


 



Preliminary drawings
(Click either image to enlarge and see sketchbook pages in their entirety)


 



Drawings


 



Ink drawings
(Click either image to enlarge and see drawing in its entirety)


 



Final spread: “Dad wakes me quietly so Mom can keep sleeping. It will be hours before the sun comes up. In the kitchen the bare bulb is burning. Dad has been up for a while, making sandwiches and packing the car. ‘Can I help?’ I ask.
‘Sure,’ my dad whispers and hands me the tackle box.”

(Click either image to enlarge and see spread, sans text, in its entirety)


 


“It’s still dark when we get to the pond. We park the car and climb over the divider between the road and the trees. My dad holds my hand and walks ahead through the tangle and scrub. ‘Step where I step,’ he says. ‘I am thinking about what Dad told the bait man. ‘If you got another job, why do we still have to fish for food?’ I ask.
‘Everything in America costs a lot of money,’ he explains.
I feel callouses on his hand when he squeezes mine.”

(Click to enlarge spread)


 


“This time it is just me and my dad. It is a little bit cold. I rub my hands together, yawn, and look up to see faint stars like freckles.”
(Click to enlarge illustration, sans text)


 




Ink drawing to final illustration
(Click each to enlarge, and click third image to see spread in its entirety)


 


“He nods and I use two hands to help guide the fish into the bucket.
The fish feels slimy and rough at the same time. Dad laughs at the funny face I make.”

(Click to enlarge illustration, sans text)


 


“And I will smile and nod, and later, when we sleep,
we will dream of fish in faraway ponds.”

(Click to enlarge illustration, sans text)


 



 

From Thi’s The Best We Could Do:
An Illustrated Memoir
:


 


(Click to enlarge and see spread in its entirety)


 



(Click either image to enlarge and see spread in its entirety)


 



(Click either image to enlarge and see spread in its entirety)


 



(Click either image to enlarge and see spread in its entirety)


 



(Click either image to enlarge and see spread in its entirety)


 



(Click either image to enlarge and see spread in its entirety)


 



(Click either image to enlarge and see spread in its entirety)


 



(Click either image to enlarge and see spread in its entirety)


 



 

* * * * * * *

A DIFFERENT POND. Text copyright © 2017 Bao Phi. Illustrations copyright © 2017 Capstone Young Readers and used by their permission, as well as by permission of Thi Bui.

Images from THE BEST WE COULD DO used by permission of Abrams Books.

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