Ten Cents a Pound

Ten Cents a Pound


By Nhung N. Tran-Davies and Illustrated by Josée Bisaillon


A mother’s sacrifice for the sake of her daughter’s future.

"Ten cents a pound is what I’ll earn, 
 To buy these books and set you free." 

A young girl is torn by her desire to stay home with her family and the familiarity of their village, and her desire to go to school and discover the world beyond the mountains that surround them. Every time the girl insists that she will stay, her mother repeats that she must go—that there is more to life than labor in the coffee fields. Their loving exchange reveals the struggles and sacrifices that they will both have to make for the sake of the young girl’s future. The sweet, simple text captures a mother’s love and her wish for a life of opportunity for her daughter.

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About the Author

Nhung N. Tran-Davies is a physician and advocate for social justice through education. Her family came to Canada as refugees from Vietnam in 1979, and in 2013 Nhung founded the Children of Vietnam Benevolent Foundation. She spoke at the UN's International Organization on Migration in Geneva as part of their "I am a Migrant" campaign to help reduce hate speech and promote tolerance. Nhung and her family live outside Edmonton, Alberta.

About the Illustrator

Josée Bisaillon has illustrated more than 20 picture books as well as numerous editorial illustrations. Her work has received recognition from Applied Arts, American Illustration and The Society of Illustrators. She has been shortlisted twice for Canada’s Governor General’s Literary Awards. Josée lives near Montréal, Québec with her family.

Product Information

  • Release: April 10, 2018

  • $18.95 Paperback

  • 24 Pages

  • Picture Book

  • 8.5 x 11

  • Ages 5-9 / Grades 1-3

  • Lexile: 610L Guided Reading: P

  • ISBN: 9781772600568


  • Reflecting Diversity
    > Cultural & Ethnic Diversity

  • Character Education
    > Strong Female Characters
    > Family & Friendship

  • History & Social Studies
    > Global Cultures


  • Canadian Children's Book Centre Best Books of 2018, Canada

  • 2019 Alberta Literary Awards, R. Ross Annett Award for Children’s Literature - Shortlisted

Praise for Ten Cents a Pound

"In alternating spreads containing lyrical verses, a young girl and her mother consider the child leaving home to attend school. Tran-Davies’ succinct and elegant text conveys heartfelt emotions.... This celebration of the mother-child bond is sure to spark discussions of childhood poverty." - Booklist

"This beautifully written story set in an unnamed Asian country has a poetic quality that matches its tender tone. The young girl dreams of going to school but she is afraid to leave her mother, her village, and all that is familiar. ... A touching lesson about parental love, sacrifice, the importance of education, and overcoming obstacles to create a better future."—School Library Journal

"A compelling tale of love and sacrifice told through a series of rhythmic verses and poignant observations. In a story at turns both whimsical, with beautiful fluttering butterflies and flowers, and gritty, with stooped backs, worn hands, and tired faces, two generations of women dream of a better tomorrow." - Foreword Reviews

"Tran-Davies writes in succinct, yet elegant prose that conveys the heartfelt emotions of both mother and daughter. Mama may not be able to change her own situation, but she knows the path that will offer her daughter greater opportunities.... This works, both as a story celebrating the mother/child bond, as well as a catalyst for discussions of the realities of life in many poor countries. Highly recommended." - CM: Canadian Review of Materials

"Ten Cents a Pound is a definite purchase for school and public libraries. This delightful and enchanting picture book would be an excellent jumping point for discussions on the migrant experience in the world today." - Resource Links

"The text is simple, poetic and powerful, the portrayal of the relationship between the nameless girl and mother touching and layered, sure to resonate deeply with readers. Bisaillon's mixed-media illustrations...are beautiful and emotionally engaging." - Canadian Children's Booknews

"This is an unforgettable, poignant story of unconditional love and hope for the future." - National Reading Campaign

“As an adult, if you aren’t tearing up by the time you finish reading this book, I will be flabbergasted.  Children may not understand this quite as easily, but what a great mini lesson or starter to talk about the lives of children in other parts of the world and help the build a wider world-view and empathy.”  - Kiss The Book