Sunday, August 26, 2007

American Born Chinese - by Gene Yang

Normally Printz Award winners tend to be a bit too ronchy and edgy for my taste, but my curiosity was peaked when American Born Chinese, a graphic novel by Gene Yang, won the award. A graphic novel winning a major children’s literature award is unheard of. As the genre grows, so does the variety and quality. I’m a huge fan of the Babymouse graphic novels for younger kids so I had to check out American Born Chinese, and I was well rewarded for my curiosity.

I heart American Born Chinese! It begins by alternating chapters between three different storylines (they are probably not called chapters, but I’m not up on my graphic novel lingo). There’s the story of the Monkey King who wishes to be accepted and respected by the other Gods, the story of Jin Wang the only Chinese American in his class who is soon joined by another Chinese American student who is unashamed of his strong accent and black hair, and the story of All American Danny who is embarrassed by visits from his Chinese cousin Chin-Kee, a portrayal of the racist stereotypes of Chinese Americans.

At first I didn’t see the parallel between the three stories, but they come together in such a beautiful intricate way in the end unified in telling the story of the struggle to overcome the want to fit in, in order to become comfortable with who you are. The perfect graphic novel to share with those who think graphic novels have no literary value.

No comments: