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Children's Fiction Asia

Cricket War, The

by (author) Tho Pham & Sandra McTavish

Kids Can Press
Initial publish date
Oct 2023
Asia, Survival Stories, Emigration & Immigration
  • Hardback

    Publish Date
    Oct 2023
    List Price

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Recommended Age, Grade, and Reading Levels

  • Age: 9 to 12
  • Grade: 4 to 7
  • Reading age: 9 to 12


A gripping story of a boy's escape from Communist Vietnam by boat, based on the author's own experience.

It's 1980, and 12-year-old Tho Pham lives with his family in South Vietnam. He spends his afternoons playing soccer and cricket fighting with his friends, but life is slowly changing under the Communists. His parents are worried, and Tho knows the Communist army will soon knock on their door to make his brother, and then him, join them. Still, it shocks him when his father says that arrangements have been made for him to leave Vietnam by boat, immediately. Thọ tries to be brave as he sets out on a harrowing journey toward the unknown.

Co-authors Tho Pham and Sandra McTavish, childhood friends, have loosely based this historical fiction novel on Tho's real-life experience as one of the Vietnamese Boat People, and have included many factual details from his journey on the South China Sea and in a Philippine refugee camp. Depictions of pirate attacks, hunger and loneliness make for a riveting survival story, sure to elicit empathy for refugees. Eventually adopted by a Canadian elementary school teacher, Tho's story is ultimately one of hope, courage and resilience. It's a valuable resource for social studies lessons on Asian culture and history, and on immigration.

About the authors

Tho Pham left Vietnam alone at the age of 11, joining tens of thousands of refugees on boats and ships. After a two-month-long journey at sea and landing at a refugee camp in Palawan, Philippines, he was eventually adopted by a Canadian elementary school teacher. Tho lives in Ottawa with his family.

Tho Pham's profile page

Sandra McTavish is a former high school English teacher and now works in educational publishing. She and her partner, Doug, divide their time between Toronto and his family farm in Ontario, where they have a few “pet” cows and barn cats.

Sandra McTavish's profile page

Editorial Reviews

A harrowing yet hopeful account of a compelling journey.

Kirkus Reviews

While the protagonist's journey is plagued by trauma and upheaval, and the authors detail Phạm's and other Vietnamese refugees' experiences to tear-jerking effect, the creators also offer comfort via joyful interactions throughout this carefully crafted, fast-paced read.

Publishers Weekly

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