Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Printz Review: American Born Chinese – Gene Luen Yang

American Born Chinese – Gene Luen Yang

Jin Wang starts at a new school where he's the only Chinese-American student. When a boy from Taiwan joins his class, Jin doesn't want to be associated with a FOB like him. Jin just wants to be an all-American boy because he's in love with an all-American girl. Danny is an all-American boy: great at basketball, popular with the girls. But his obnoxious Chinese cousin Chin-Kee's annual visit is such a disaster that it ruins Danny's reputation at school. The Monkey King has lived for thousands of years and mastered the arts of kung fu and the heavenly disciplines. He's ready to join the ranks of the immortal gods in heaven. But there's no place in heaven for a monkey. Each of these characters cannot help himself alone, but how can they possibly help each other? They're going to have to find a way—if they want to fix the disasters their lives have become.

Review: I’m not sure how to review this book because it’s the only graphic novel I’ve ever read. I have nothing to compare it against.

American Born Chinese tells three intersecting stories. One is about a monkey who attempts to become a god. The second is about a Chinese-American boy who wants to be more American. The third is about an American boy with an obnoxious Chinese cousin. The three stories come together in a surprising way at the end.

My favorite of the storylines is the one about Jin Wang, a boy who is trying to be more American. Even if you aren’t an immigrant, it’s easy to relate to Jin Wang. Everybody has something about themselves that they wish they could change. Also, he looks adorable with his perm.

This story works perfectly as a graphic novel because the pictures add a lot of humor. The book is about learning how to accept yourself as you are. I think the message would have been heavy-handed in a regular novel, but the funny pictures keep the book from being preachy. It’s done very well.

I love the ending. I knew that the stories would intertwine eventually, but I never expected it to end like that.

This is a great book for kids (and adults). The art is colorful, humorous, and easy to follow. The stories are simple but meaningful. The book shows the harm of stereotyping and the importance of being yourself. More people need to read it.

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