Sunday, January 28, 2007

If you have not read American Born Chinese by Gene Luen Yang, the 2007 Michael L. Printz Award for Excellence in Young Adult Literature, you are missing something. This is the first graphic novel to win the award in its eight year history.

American Born Chinese is a deft combination of Chinese mythology and religious teachings and the struggles of two teenageers, one Chinese-American boy who is trying to navigate adolescence and his heritage in his bigoted high school, and another typical American teenager who is humiliated by a visit from his cousin, a gross stereotype drawn from American media's misconceptions of Chinese people.

The three major characters, The Monkey King, Jin and Danny, all face similar trials resulting in a similar lessong--learning to accept and like themselves.

Yang uses bright primary colors, strong lines and standard comic phrases (zip, pfft, krak) to advance his story's active portions. Most amusing is a scene of fisticuffs between two teens incorporating the names of all the most recognizable dishes on a Chinese take-out menu.

The pacing is speedy. Reading time shouldn't be more than an hour for even the slowest reader. The tone is fanciful and humorous. The outstanding feature of this book is the active artwork and the readers should know this book, which appeal to adults as well as teens, has a surprise ending that will have readers going back to the first page to begin rereading.

2 comments:

Lesbrarian said...

Ya know... I didn't actually like it that much. Didn't dislike any of it, but didn't really care for it, either. But I am thrilled that a GN got a major book award, and hey, it was a fast read.

MarianLibertarian said...

ONo kiddin' fast read. Only took me an hour. I liked the way the author took all three stories and made them fit together. The art was okay. I've seen better. but I liked the story telling. And I wasn't offended by the middle section. I don't think the author intended it to be. But I've heard lots of folks say they were offended and for that section alone, they hate the book.