Teen Librarian Toolbox
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YA A to Z: Gene Luen Yang

Here we are in the homestretch – I mean, we’re at the letter Y – and not one single graphic novel has appeared on our list, even though statistical evidence suggests that graphic novels are some of the top circulating items in my library system (how about yours?). The truth is, I personally am not a huge reader of graphic novels, though I am a huge advocate for them because my tweens and teens love them. Even The Tween loves them, personally being a huge fan of GNs by Raina Telgemeier and a few other series. I know, I hang my head in shame. I should read more graphic novels. That should be one of my New Year’s Resolutions.

But I have read the award winning works of Gene Luen Yang and maintain that everyone should. Everyone. Yes, even you. These books are award winners for a reason!

About American Born Chinese:

“All Jin Wang wants is to fit in. When his family moves to a new neighborhood, he suddenly finds that he’s the only Chinese American student at his school. Jocks and bullies pick on him constantly, and he has hardly any friends. Then, to make matters worse, he falls in love with an all-American girl…

Born to rule over all the monkeys in the world, the story of the Monkey King is one of the oldest and greatest Chinese fables. Adored by his subjects, master of the arts of kung-fu, he is the most powerful monkey on earth. But the Monkey King doesn’t want to be a monkey. He wants to be hailed as a god…

Chin-Kee is the ultimate negative Chinese stereotype, and he’s ruining his cousin Danny’s life. Danny’s a popular kid at school, but every year Chin-Kee comes to visit, and every year Danny has to transfer to a new school to escape the shame. This year, though, things quickly go from bad to worse…

These three apparently unrelated tales come together with an unexpected twist, in a modern fable that is hilarious, poignant and action-packed. American Born Chinese is an amazing rise, all the way up to the astonishing climax–and confirms what a growing number of readers already know: Gene Yang is a major talent” (Publisher’s Description)

American Born Chinese has won a tremendous amount of recognition: “In 2006, Yang published American Born Chinese with :01 First Second Publishing and won the annual Michael L. Printz Award from the American Library Association recognizing the year’s “best book written for teens, based entirely on its literary merit”.[9] It was also the first graphic novel to be a finalist for the National Book Award, Young People’s Literature,[4] and it won an Eisner Award for best new graphic album.[10] American Born Chinese has since been recognized in many ways. It has been on the Booklist top Ten Graphic Novel for Youth; NPR Holiday Pick, Publishers Weekly Comics Week Best Comic of the Year, San Francisco Chronicle Best Book of the Year, The Rueben Award for Best Comic Book, The Chinese American Librarians Association 2006/2007 Best Graphic Album – New, Time Magazine Top Ten Comic of the Year, and Amazon.com Best Graphic Novel/Comic of the year.” – From his Wikipedia page

About Boxers & Saints:

“China, 1898. Bands of foreign missionaries and soldiers roam the countryside, bullying and robbing Chinese peasants.

Little Bao has had enough. Harnessing the powers of ancient Chinese gods, he recruits an army of Boxers–commoners trained in kung fu–who fight to free China from “foreign devils.”

Against all odds, this grass-roots rebellion is violently successful. But nothing is simple. Little Bao is fighting for the glory of China, but at what cost? So many are dying, including thousands of “secondary devils”–Chinese citizens who have converted to Christianity.

Saints: China, 1898. An unwanted and unwelcome fourth daughter, Four-Girl isn’t even given a proper name by her family when she’s born. She finds friendship–and a name, Vibiana–in the most unlikely of places: Christianity.

But China is a dangerous place for Christians. The Boxer Rebellion is in full swing, and bands of young men roam the countryside, murdering Westerners and Chinese Christians alike. Torn between her nation and her Christian friends, Vibiana will have to decide where her true loyalties lie…and whether she is willing to die for her faith.” (Publisher’s Description)

Outside of the awesome storyline and storyboarding, Boxers & Saints has epic packaging in the way the two are clearly designed to go together. There are so many interesting things happening here, including diving into some of the myths and realities of China’s view of women and the world of Christians in China. As a youth ministry major at a conservative Christian college, we heard often about the life of Christians in China and it was fascinating to read about those struggles in a different storytelling format and outside the walls of a group of people who definitely had some bias in the ways that these stories were presented. This is truly an amazing story. In 2013 Gene Luen Yang was a National Book Award Finalist for this amazing story.


About the Author:

Gene Yang began drawing comic books in the fifth grade. In 1997, he received the Xeric Grant, a prestigious comics industry grant, for Gordon Yamamoto and the King of the Geeks, his first comics work as an adult. He has since written and drawn a number of titles, including Duncan’s Kingdom (with art by Derek Kirk Kim) and The Rosary Comic Book. American Born Chinese received National Book Award.

He lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with his lovely wife and children and teaches at a Roman Catholic high school. (This bio is ripped from his Goodreads bio)

 

Join the conversation!  Share a post about your favorite author OR tweet us your favorite author with the tag #YAAtoZ. While we’re sharing our favorite authors, we would love to hear about yours. We all might find some new authors we haven’t heard of before. And the more authors we share, the more comprehensive and diverse the list becomes. On Twitter, we’re @TLT16, @boothheather, @robinreads, and @citesomething.

#YAAtoZ Schedule: Week 1 4: A ; 5: B ; 6: C ; 7: D  Week 2 10: E ; 11: F ; 12: G, H, I ; 13: J, K ; 14: L  Week 3 17: M ; 18: N, O ; 19: P, Q ; 20: R, S ; 21: T  Week 4 24: U ; 25: V, W ; 26: X ; 27: Y ; 28: Z

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