Multicultural Children’s Book Day 2023: Book Review of Mèo and Bé by Doan Phuong Nguyen

Amid the Vietnam War, eleven-year-old Bé loses her voice after her mother leaves her to live with her father, brothers, and terrible stepmother, Big Mother. Her father, whose health deteriorates after a stroke, cannot stop Big Mother’s abuses. Bé finds comfort in a new friend, a three-legged cat she names Mèo. But Big Mother’s hate has no bounds, and she sells Bé to men who lock women in an underground bunker. Bé is too young to understand what happens to the women when forced to go to the surface, but she knows they are prisoners. As time passes underground, Bé becomes close friends with a thirteen-year-old girl named Ngân. When an opportunity arises, Bé and Ngân must find their way to freedom, safety, and family.

Written by Doan Phuong Nguyen, Mèo and Bé is a heart-rending middle-grade novel about an eleven-year-old girl who wants the warmth and safety of a family after suffering abominable abuse at the hands of her jealous stepmother and being sold to a sex trafficking gang. Although it covers tough subjects like war, emotional and physical abuse, and sex trafficking, it does so in an age-appropriate manner. In addition to these sensitive subjects, it covers hopeful topics like friendship, courage, kindness, compassion, new-found families, and adoption.

Doan Phuong Nguyen is an Asian American writer who was born in Vietnam and immigrated to the United States when she was a child. She holds an MFA in Creative Writing for Children and Young Adults from Vermont College of Fine Arts. Sara Megibow represents her at KT Literary, and Mèo and Bé is her debut novel.

Tu Books, an imprint of Lee and Low Books Inc., is the publisher of Mèo and Bé by Doan Phuong Nguyen. Mèo and Bé is available for preorders, and its official publication date is May 23rd, 2023. I highly recommend it to educators, parents, and libraries looking for culturally diverse books.

Tu Books, an imprint of Lee and Low Books Inc, gifted me an ARC of Mèo and Bé in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own. 

Multicultural Children’s Book Day 2023 (1/26/22) is in its 10th year! This non-profit children’s literacy initiative was founded by Valarie Budayr and Mia Wenjen; two diverse book-loving moms who saw a need to shine the spotlight on all of the multicultural books and authors on the market while also working to get those books into the hands of young readers and educators.

Ten years in, MCBD’s mission is to raise awareness of the ongoing need to include kids’ books that celebrate diversity in homes and school bookshelves continues. Read about our Mission & History HERE.

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📌 FREE RESOURCES from Multicultural Children’s Book Day

📌 Register for the MCBD Read Your World Virtual Party

Join us on Thursday, January 26, 2023, at 9 pm EST for the 10th annual Multicultural Children’s Book Day Read Your World Virtual Party!

This epically fun and fast-paced hour includes multicultural book discussions, addressing timely issues, diverse book recommendations, & reading ideas.

We will be giving away a 10-Book Bundle during the virtual party plus Bonus Prizes as well! *** US and Global participants welcome. **

Follow the hashtag #ReadYourWorld to join the conversation, and connect with like-minded parts, authors, publishers, educators, organizations, and librarians. We look forward to seeing you all on January 26, 2023, at our virtual party!

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THANK YOU to our wonderful participants and supporters including Co-Hosts, Medallion and Author Levels Sponsors, book reviewers, book donators, and readers! 

Link up your book reviews here and use this collection to discover new titles and authors for your home and classroom bookshelves. #ReadYourWorld

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Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. If you click through and make a purchase, I receive a small compensation at no extra cost to you.


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