Mali Under the Night Sky
By Youme Landowne
Illustrated by Youme Landowne
Published by Cinco Puntos Press
“Cinco Puntos Press has made a significant contribution in publishing Mali Under the Night Sky…The book’s value to Laotian families in diaspora is of course incalculable.” –Paper Tigers
Mali Under the Night Sky, a 2011 Skipping Stones honor book, is the true story of Laotian American artist Malichansouk Kouanchao, whose family was forced by civil war to flee Laos when she was five. Before the war began, Mali lived an idyllic life in a community where she felt safe and was much loved. But the coming war caused her family to flee to another country and a life that was less than ideal. What did she carry with her? She carried her memories. And they in turn carried her across the world, sharing where she is from and all that she loves with the people she meets.
Reviews & Accolades
“This story of a life disrupted by war is told in a simple, straightforward manner, from a child’s point of view…The focus remains tightly on Mali’s experiences and feelings, keeping it accessible to young readers. An endnote introduces the real Mali, Malichansouk Kouanchao, an artist upon whose experiences the book is based, and an additional endnote by another Laotian artist provides historical context. Laotian vocabulary is incorporated in a natural way, and the illustrations include Laotian script. The watercolor illustrations, while naive in style, convey a real sense of place. Intricate borders surround every spread, and the bright/dark color schemes reflect the emotions of each scene. The book will be best appreciated by children when read with an adult to help them process the troubling elements of Mali’s life. While not a fun story, it is an important well-told one.” –School Library Journal
“With a spare first-person narrative and affecting watercolor-wash illustrations, this biography…tells of a family’s escape from civil war in Laos…The small child’s viewpoint will move young readers, and a final photo shows the real Mali, an artist and activist, today.” –Booklist
“A Laotian girl’s life takes a cruel turn in this haunting yet hopeful tale based on the childhood of Laotian-American artist Malichansouk Kouanchao…Landowne smoothly includes several Laotian words and phrases in this deeply felt and gently told story.” –Publisher’s Weekly
“In Mali Under the Night Sky, Youme beautifully renders the true story of Malichansouk Kouanchao, who, the flyleaf tells us, “walked from Laos to Thailand when she was five years old…Cinco Puntos Press has made a significant contribution in publishing Mali Under the Night Sky. Its tender images and heartfelt words will touch children everywhere. While it ends with Mali in prison, young readers also learn of her subsequent success in life and dedication to healing the wounds of war. The book’s value to Laotian families in diaspora is of course incalculable.” –Paper Tigers
Immigration, survival, cultural traditions
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