Meo and Be by Doan Phuong Nguyen

I'm Doan Phuong

The author behind the books

If you love emotional and beautiful literary work for young readers, I'm your author

I'm the author of Mèo and Bé, a literary middle grade novel full of heart, kindness, and compassion and starring the cutest three-legged kitten!

(Tu Books, an imprint of Lee and Low, May 2023.)

When I'm not writing stories for kids, I'm traveling around the world, coming up with creative recipes in the kitchen, taking photos and making videos with my young son.

I'm a photographer, daydreamer, chef and amateur Youtube creator. As my father always says, "your head is in the clouds." I am endlessly dreaming! I love dressing up in beautiful dresses, traveling the globe, and pretending a fairy princess. I'm a creative girlie girl.

I was born in Vietnam and immigrated to the United States when I was in elementary school. I received my MFA in Creative Writing for Children and Young Adults from Vermont College of Fine Arts.

Mèo and Bé is my debut novel. I am represented by Sara Megibow of KT Literary.

Mèo and Bé by Doan Phuong Nguyen cover


Just before the United States enters the Vietnam War, eleven-year-old Bé and her three-footed kitten Mèo must rise above the injustices of war to find the comfort, safety, and love of a found family.

Eleven-year-old Bé hasn't spoken a word since her mother left. She hangs on to the hope that one day they will be reunited, but after two years of waiting, it's becoming more difficult. Her father--who is now frail and helpless after a stroke--can do little to protect her from her stepmother, Big Mother, who treats Bé like an animal and a servant. Thankfully, Bé has a secret friend, her little kitten Mèo, to comfort her in the worst of times. Maybe if she just steers clear of Big Mother and is obedient, everything will be okay.

Unfortunately, Big Mother has other plans. She accuses her of stealing, and Bé is drugged and sold. When she wakes up, she finds herself in a locked underground bunker being held captive with a group of young women. Bé is too young to understand why they're prisoners, but at least she still has Mèo! He was hiding in her shirt when she was taken. As weeks pass, Bé makes a friend her own age, Ngân, even without speaking, and Mèo becomes a solace for the women--being available for cuddles and catching the mice that annoy them.

Suddenly, a violent uprising enables the imprisoned women and girls to escape, only to realize the wider world of war is just as dangerous. Can Bé and Mèo, and their newfound friend, Ngân, find their way to a safe place they can call home--even though the world is literally exploding all around them?

A beautiful literary work, full of kindness and compassion amidst the devastation of war.

Available online and in bookstores everywhere on May 23, 2023

order the book:


"This moving debut novel, based in part on the experiences of members of Nguyen's family, features well-developed characters, vivid depictions of wartime Vietnam, and a sense of everyday life for ordinary Vietnamese people during this period...An unsparingly brutal but ultimately uplifting story; readers will cheer as Bé finally finds her voice." -- Booklist

"An underrepresented topic on most shelves, this page-turner explores a girl’s search for love and connection while providing a unique and necessary historical perspective." - School Library Journal

"This powerfully wrought portrayal of grief and perseverance sensitively depicts an underrepresented perspective of life in Vietnam during the war." -- Publishers Weekly

"This raw story of perseverance in the face of horror will challenge readers and their interlocutors."

-- Kirkus

"An eye-opening story of a little girl's strength and resilience amid family trauma and war-torn Vietnam. As she struggles to survive and regain her loved ones and her voice, Bé and her faithful kitten Mèo will win your heart." -- Tonya Duncan Ellis, author of the bestselling Sophie Washington series

"It's a stunning debut by Vietnamese author Doan Phuong Nguyen about growing up in Vietnam amid war and is sure to make you smile, cry, and then smile some more. She knocked this one out of the park." -- George Jreije, author of the Shad Hadid series

Oh, my heart! What an INCREDIBLE book! I couldn't stop reading, and I know as a kid I would've absolutely devoured this too. This book deals with some really difficult topics like war, human trafficking, and abusive family, but it handles them with such care and thoughtfulness. -- Meg Eden Kuyatt, author of Good Different