Posted by : Deborah Takahashi Monday, May 16, 2011

Plot Summary:
In this graphic novel are three very different stories. The first story about the Monkey King and his journey to become an equal with the rest of the gods. The second story is about Jin who is trying really hard to be like everyone else, especially when it comes to a certain girl. The last story is about Danny who is beyond embarrassed of his cousin, Chin Kee, who happens to the worst Asian stereotype known to American culture. All three of these stories carry very different themes, but they prove that no matter who you are, what you look like, how you talk, and what you do with yourself does not determine one's worth and happiness. Moreover, all of these characters, believe is or not, are all related and teens will come to terms with this discovery.

Critical Evaluation:
Gene Luen Yang is not only the first graphic novelist to win the Michael L. Printz award, but he has made a significant contribution to the world of graphic novels by earning the first National Book Award nomination for graphic novels. American Born Chinese is an intelligent, funny story that chronicles the lives of three characters who are searching for ways to change who they are in order to be noticed. The Monkey King, who wasn't allowed to attend a dinner party with the gods, does everything he can to prove that he isn't a smelly monkey, but a force to be reckoned with. Jing Wang just wants to be seen as any other teenager, but is tired of being made fun off because his best friend is an F.O.B.. Lastly, Danny is completely embarrassed of his cousin Chin Kee from China. Clearly, all of these characters are ashamed of who they are; however, no matter how hard they try to change who they are they come to realize that they are actually very special just the way they are. Yang has not only paved the way for future Asian Americans writers, but has provided readers with a story that they can relate to even if they aren't Asian Americans.

Information about the Author:
Gene Luen Yang started publishing comic books under the name of Humble Comics in 1996 and, a year later, he earned the Xeric foundation. Luen Yang has written a total of nine graphic novels and comics that are suitable for reader sof all ages. According to his website: "American Born Chinese, released by First Second Books in 2006, became the first graphic novel to be nominated for a National Book Award and the first to win the American Library Association’s Printz Award. It also won an Eisner Award for Best Graphic Album – New. The Eternal Smile, a collaborative project I did with Derek Kirk Kim in 2009, won an Eisner as well. And I just received word that my 2010 graphic novella Prime Baby has been nominated for an Eisner! Now, Thien Pham and I look forward to the release of our new graphic novel Level Up in June 2011" (para. 1).  When not working on his graphic novels and comics, he is a computer science teacher at a Catholic high school.

Teen Graphic Novels

Reading Level/Interest:
Grades 9 & up

Books Similar to American Born Chinese:

Awards & Recognition:
  • Best Fiction for Young Adults: 2007
  • Booklist Editor's Choice: 2006
  • Kentucky: Bluegrass Award Nominees: 2008
  • Michael L. Printz Award: 2007
  • National Book Award Nominee: 2006
  • SLJ Best Books for Children: 2006

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Deborah Takahashi
Pasadena, CA, United States
My name is Deb and I am a Librarian who absolutely loves to read and recommend books to teen and tween readers. In this blog, you will find reviews on a variety resources ranging from books, movies, video games, and much more. Please feel free to leave any feedback, especially book recommendations!
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