Thought Bubbles

Listen, Slowly: By Thanhha Lai

Mai doesn’t want to go to Vietnam, she wants to be eating fish tacos at the beach and paddle boarding one-legged with her best friend Montana. But, after a long sixth grade her parents “drag” her to hot, stuffy Vietnam to help her grandmother (Ba) get over the heartbreaking loss of Ong (Mai’s grandfather).


Throughout the story Thanhha Lai takes you on a journey through Vietnam. From  the hot, crowded, and loud cites, to frog-filled swamps, to small villages, and to famous landmarks, all while Mai has the burden of helping Ba find out the truth about Ong. 

This book showcases true friendship, loyalty, and acceptance. Also, Mai’s attitude to this long, hot, and boring trip!

This is a memory box Ba would have, showcasing all her important life landmarks. For each thing in the box I will give a short description, but for more detail you’ll have to read the book!


The front of Ba’s memory box

What it means in English: I miss you. Name our next child Rain. I hope I will be back soon.

A letter from Ong when he was in  charter school in France to Ba at home in Vietnam getting tutored.

An old paper recording all of the important sayings and dates in Ba’s life.

This is the saying that Ong would always write at the end of all of his letters to Ba. Also, he named all of his kids after each word in the phrase.

This is a saying in Vietnam that it used to comfort someone or calm them down,

One of Ong’s old woolen hats.

Ba’s many maybes and hopes for what happened to Ong.

A clump of clay taken from the tunnel where Ong was held captive.

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  1. natalie dente June 3, 2017

    Hi Anna, sounds like a very interesting story. Uncle Pat and Aunt Rosemary have been to Vietnam several times, They found it to be a very interesting place to visit. love Grandma Natalie

  2. donna June 5, 2017

    Hi Anna,

    I love this. What a great way to tell us about this book. I already feel emotionally connected to the story. I can’t wait to read it.

  3. Marco June 5, 2017

    This sounds like a great book. I love your memory box! Your letter was very creative!

  4. Isabella July 6, 2017

    I read that book! It was really good! I really like looking at the things you put in the memory box!

  5. Aunt Debbie July 6, 2017

    The memory box was a clever way to draw us into the story. Well done! Now I have another book added to my summer reading list. 😉
    xo Aunt D

  6. Uncle Angelo July 8, 2017

    I’ve never heard of this book, so thanks for letting me know about it! I like the idea of memory boxes. It causes me to think of what a box of Memory Boxes would be called – Memories Box? or Memories Boxes? Or Memory Box Box? And what if you forget where your Memory Box is? Does it become a Forgotten Box? And, what then happens if you find your Forgotten Box that was a Memory Box? Does it become a Remembered Box? I wrestle with these conundrums, I do! I love your pictures here too by the way!

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