Monday, February 21, 2011

American Born Chinese

Yang, G.L. (2006). American Born Chinese. First Second Books.

Plot Summary:
This graphic novel contains three stories which ultimately diverge into one. The stories are of the Monkey King, who is trying to be recognized by heaven, Danny and his cousin Chin-Kee, and Jin Wang, a Chinese American elementary school student. The Monkey King attempts to do everything possible to be recognized by heaven, including being able to transform himself into different forms. Danny is a white high school student who is embarrassed by his cousin Chin-kee who visits him from China every year. Jin Wang is a Chinese American elementary student who struggles to fit in with his predominately white classmates.

This is an incredible graphic novel. The three stories run along side one another until they merge at the end and you are hit with the reality that they were not all that different from one another. This book tackles racism and identity issues in a very creative way. Jin and the Monkey King are both dealing with issues within their own selves as they have a hard time relating to the world around them. These two characters realize that their identity issues have just as much to do with themselves as the world around them. The storyline of Jin is sadly very realistic and could easily be seen within our schools in America.

graphic novel, fantasy

Reading Level:
Ages 12 - 14

Similar Books:


racism, self-identity

Michael L. Printz Award
National Book Award Finalist

Character Names/Descriptions:
Jin Wang: Chinese American elementary school student, has issues fitting in to a predominately white school

Wei-Chen Sun: Jin Wang's friend and classmate from Taiwan

Monkey King: King of Flower-Fruit Mountain, born out of a rock, longs to be recognized as a deity, has issues with being a monkey

Danny: white high school student, cousin to Chin-Kee

Chin-Kee: Chinese cousin to Danny, visits every year from China, is every possible negative Chinese stereotype in one character

This graphic novel contains three stories interwoven by each character's self-identity issues exacerbated by the racism they must endure.

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