Back Arts & Culture » Music & Art » Penguin Random House to Publish Acclaimed Storybook by 2 Vietnamese Illustrators

Penguin Random House to Publish Acclaimed Storybook by 2 Vietnamese Illustrators

An’s first journey to school isn’t just limited to the Mekong Delta anymore, he’s paddled his way to the wide oceans of the world.

On Sunday, KAA, the author duo behind the award-winning children’s book The First Journey, announced on Facebook that their acclaimed debut project will be published worldwide by Penguin Random House. The first English edition was only available in Asia through a Singapore-based publishing house, while the Vietnamese-language one was released in Vietnam by Kim Dong.

According to KAA, the upcoming Penguin edition will be renamed My First Day, featuring a brand-new cover and rewritten content by American writer and illustrator Christopher Myers. My First Day also adds a new page introducing Vietnam and the Mekong Delta, which serves as the vibrant background for the story, to international readers.

In an interview with Zing, the authors revealed that Penguin Random House, along with Lerner and Harper Collins, expressed interest in publishing The First Journey back at the end of 2019, and they eventually signed a contract with Penguin. Contract negotiation lasted three months, from the last day of 2019 to March, stipulating that the publishing house will distribute the book in all international markets except Asia.

Liên and Quang (first and second from left) at the Asian Festival of Children’s Content in Singapore in May 2017, when the English version of The First Journey was released.

KAA is the pen name of Saigon-based author-illustrator pair Phùng Nguyên Quang and Huỳnh Kim Liên. The First Journey was their first independent project despite having previously been part of the production other children’s books. Before the storyline even took shape, they knew that the natural landscapes of Vietnam would be at the forefront of the chronicle, and the resulting book has done a stellar job of highlighting that natural beauty.

The book’s narrative is simple: An, a young boy living in the Mekong Delta, embarks on his first trip to school, which turns into a grand adventure involving water pythons, an eerie forest, and even towering waves.

Crafted as a last-minute entry into the Scholastic Picture Book Award competition in 2016, The First Journey ended up securing the top prize and, later, publishing deals in Vietnam and Singapore. Still, KAA’s new deal with Penguin Random House is an optimistic signal that incredible work from Vietnamese artists is getting the recognition it deserves on the world stage.

“We want to thank everyone, it’s because of your love and interest that An can travel this far,” the duo wrote on Facebook in Vietnamese. “The first journey to school has now become a journey around the world. We’re overjoyed!”

More information on how to pre-order My First Day is available on Penguin Random House’s website. Read Saigoneer’s interview with KAA about The First Journey here.

[Images via Facebook page KAA]

Related Articles

Khoi Pham

in Music & Arts

A Designer From Da Lat Brings His Hometown's Beauty to a Calendar Project

Da Lat is not merely a place, it’s a state of mind.

Khoi Pham

in Music & Arts

A Local Artist's Vision of Vietnam, Rendered in the Dreamlike Nature of Anime

In 2016, Toho released the Japanese romantic fantasy Your Name. worldwide to rapturous reception. The feature, written and directed by Makoto Shinkai, went on to become the most financially successful...

in Music & Arts

How a Controversial SEA Games Mascot Design Inspired an Art Campaign

The upcoming 31st Southeast Asian Games (SEA Games) will take place next year in Hanoi and some nearby provinces.

in Music & Arts

Inside Award-Winning Vietnamese Children's Book 'The First Journey'

A couple months back, we wrote about Phung Nguyen Quang and Huynh Kim Lien, a pair of Vietnamese children's book authors who took the top prize at this year's Asia-wide Scholastic Picture Book Award&n...

in Music & Arts

Local Illustrator Recreates Saigon's Convenience Stores as Adorable Cartoon Houses

In the early 2010s, convenience stores emerged as an affordable alternative for Vietnamese youths, especially those with limited disposable income, to chill. A decade later, the widespread mushrooming...

in Music & Arts

On the Idea of Home: Reflections From Another Covid-19 Summer

I’m writing this to remember another Covid summer. Today, Saigon continues the second round of social distancing.

Partner Content