Reviews for American Born Chinese


Booklist Reviews 2006 August #2
With vibrant colors and visual panache, indie writer-illustrator Yang (Rosary Comic Book) focuses on three characters in tales that touch on facets of Chinese American life. Jin is a boy faced with the casual racism of fellow students and the pressure of his crush on a Caucasian girl; the Monkey King, a character from Chinese folklore, has attained great power but feels he is being held back because of what the gods perceive as his lowly status; and Danny, a popular high-school student, suffers through an annual visit from his cousin Chin-Kee, a walking, talking compendium of exaggerated Chinese stereotypes. Each of the characters is flawed but familiar, and, in a clever postmodern twist, all share a deep, unforeseen connection. Yang helps the humor shine by using his art to exaggerate or contradict the words, creating a synthesis that marks an accomplished graphic storyteller. The stories have a simple, engaging sweep to them, but their weighty subjects--shame, racism, and friendship--receive thoughtful, powerful examination. ((Reviewed September 1, 2006)) Copyright 2006 Booklist Reviews

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Library Journal Reviews 2007 March #2

A National Book Award finalist and ALA's Printz Award winner, this fable stars the mythological Monkey King, realistic youngster Jin Wang of Taiwanese parentage, and TV sitcom teen Danny. All three are dogged by an unwanted identity and humiliated by others' prejudice. The Monkey King trains to be a god but is unceremoniously bounced out of heaven and urged by "he who is" (the great god) to be what he is: a monkey. Jin tries to be accepted and romance a fellow student but gets picked on by classmates. Danny does well with friends until Chinese cousin Chin-Kee, a bitingly funny bundle of racist stereotypes, makes his annual visit and behaves so offensively that Danny must change schools. Finally, the three stories suddenly merge, to center on Jin coming to terms with his minority experience and moving beyond his own fear and hostility. Coalescence comes almost too quickly, but the trivision approach and treatment are unique and moving. The art is simple, colorful, and both attractive and effective. Some potty humor; recommended for teen and adult collections.--M.C.

[Page 54]. Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information.

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Library Media Connection - January 2007
In this graphic novel, three humorous and seemingly unrelated stories keep the reader's attention until they come together at the end. The first story concerns a Chinese-American boy trying to fit in. The second is a retelling of the Chinese fable of the monkey king. Those familiar with the anime/manga Saiyuki will immediately recognize the characters of the monk, water sprite, and boar in the Journey to the West. The third story involves a Chinese cousin who visits an American boy each year. The depiction of the cousin is so painfully stereotypical that you feel guilty laughing. In each story, the central character is unsatisfied with who he is and goes to great lengths to be someone else-with humorous results. The reader might be puzzled as to how the three stories are connected until the conclusion. It's a nice combination of a fable and contemporary stories to convey the wonderful lesson of accepting one's culture and identity with pride. A quick read, this title has engaging art, and at times, funny dialogue. There are some mild sexual references. One of my students, an active graphic novel reader, pronounced it, "Really funny with good characters." Recommended. Rosemary Knapp, Library Media Specialist, Camas (Washington) High School © 2007 Linworth Publishing, Inc.

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Publishers Weekly Reviews 2006 June #2

As alienated kids go, Jin Wang is fairly run-of-the-mill: he eats lunch by himself in a corner of the schoolyard, gets picked on by bullies and jocks and develops a sweat-inducing crush on a pretty classmate. And, oh, yes, his parents are from Taiwan. This much-anticipated, affecting story about growing up different is more than just the story of a Chinese-American childhood; it's a fable for every kid born into a body and a life they wished they could escape. The fable is filtered through some very specific cultural icons: the much-beloved Monkey King, a figure familiar to Chinese kids the world over, and a buck-toothed amalgamation of racist stereotypes named Chin-Kee. Jin's hopes and humiliations might be mirrored in Chin-Kee's destructive glee or the Monkey King's struggle to come to terms with himself, but each character's expressions and actions are always perfectly familiar. True to its origin as a Web comic, this story's clear, concise lines and expert coloring are deceptively simple yet expressive. Even when Yang slips in an occasional Chinese ideogram or myth, the sentiments he's depicting need no translation. Yang accomplishes the remarkable feat of practicing what he preaches with this book: accept who you are and you'll already have reached out to others. (Sept.)

[Page 36]. Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.

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School Library Journal Review 2006 September

Gr 7 Up Graphic novels that focus on nonwhite characters are exceedingly rare in American comics. Enter American Born Chinese , a well-crafted work that aptly explores issues of self-image, cultural identity, transformation, and self-acceptance. In a series of three linked tales, the central characters are introduced: Jin Wang, a teen who meets with ridicule and social isolation when his family moves from San Francisco’s Chinatown to an exclusively white suburb; Danny, a popular blond, blue-eyed high school jock whose social status is jeopardized when his goofy, embarrassing Chinese cousin, Chin-Kee, enrolls at his high school; and the Monkey King who, unsatisfied with his current sovereign, desperately longs to be elevated to the status of a god. Their stories converge into a satisfying coming-of-age novel that aptly blends traditional Chinese fables and legends with bathroom humor, action figures, and playground politics. Yang’s crisp line drawings, linear panel arrangement, and muted colors provide a strong visual complement to the textual narrative. Like Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye and Laurence Yep’s Dragonwings , this novel explores the impact of the American dream on those outside the dominant culture in a finely wrought story that is an effective combination of humor and drama.Philip Charles Crawford, Essex High School, Essex Junction, VT

[Page 240]. Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.

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VOYA Reviews 2006 October
Three seemingly unrelated stories blend into a memorable tale of growing up Chinese American. The book begins with the ancient fable of the Monkey King, the proud leader of the monkeys. He is punished for entering the god's dinner party by being buried under a mountain for five hundred years. Second is the story of Jin Wang, the son of immigrants struggling to retain his Chinese identity while longing to be more Americanized. The final story is that of Cousin Chin-Kee, an amalgamation of the worst Chinese stereotypes. Chin-Kee yearly visits his all-American cousin Danny, causing so much embarrassment that Danny must change schools. The final chapter unifies the three tales into one version of what it means to be American-born Chinese This graphic novel first appeared as a long running Web comic on http://www.Moderntales.com, where it enjoyed an enthusiastic following. The artwork is clean and distinctive, with varying panel styles and inking that is visually appealing. The Cousin Chin-Kee story line is extremely hyperbolic and at times difficult to read, as it embraces the most extreme negative Chinese stereotypes, but it displays some of the difficulties in perception faced by young Chinese Americans. This graphic novel could be especially cathartic for teens and adults of Asian descent, but people of any ethnicity would find themselves reflected in the universal themes of self-acceptance, peer pressure, and racial tensions. This book is recommended for libraries serving teens and adults, particularly those enjoying graphic novels.-Sherrie Williams 4Q 3P J S G Copyright 2006 Voya Reviews.

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