Posted by : Deborah Takahashi Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Plot Summary:
Hank Chu lives a fairly normal life; his mother works for a wealthy woman and his father owns a grocery store in Chinatown. What Hank doesn't realize is that his father harbors a secret that can be traced back to the time when China was no longer ruled by the emperor. Although Hank loves his father, he knows that his mother does not, which is why she never smiles. However, when his mother is taken hostage after a bank robbery, the Anchor comes to her rescue and gives her the idea that her son will not be like his father: he will be a superhero! Although Hank has no desire to be superhero, be obliges his mothers hair brained ideas along with many, many cuts and bruises thanks to Uncle Wun. Just when things could get any more difficult, Hank does something that will cost him dearly because he wanted to protect his family. Just when he is about to give up, his luck changes when an ancient guardian called The Tortoise arises, asking Hank to live in his shadow; what Hank didn't know is that the Tortoise saved his father by striking a deal that literally saved his father's life. Now that Hank has made a deal with Tortoise, Hank has decided that he must be a superhero to not only bring down a criminal empire, but bringing the man how hurt his family to justice. The Tortoise is on the case and readers will instantly fall in love with this underrated superhero.   

Critical Evaluation:
I absolutely, positively loved this story. In fact, I had no idea that the Green Turtle existed and I am tickled pink that Asian Americans have been represented in the long time awesomeness of comic books! What I love most about this story is how readers can easily relate to Hank. What I also relate to is Hank's mother because I see the same unconditional love and desire for him to be the best in my own mother. I also adore Hank's father because he really was Hank's rock and superhero despite all the secrecy. When readers learn all about Hank's family history, it is obvious that he Hank had a two very obvious choices to make: hide in the shadows and do what was expected or take his fate into his own hands and stand up for what is right. When I think of the Green Turtle, I am instantly reminded of Captain America because both of these two characters have the purest hearts and strong sense of wrong and right, which make them lovable and incredibly admirable. Another great aspect of this story, like Steve Rogers' super soldier serum, Tortoise makes a deal with Hank to make him bulletproof as long as Tortoise can live in his shadow. Like any superhero, there must be a sidekick and Hank has one in Tortoise. Armed with a guardian, and a strong will to seek out justice, Hank was reborn, which conveys the overall theme in this story: never accept of life of cowardice and taking a stand against injustice. More importantly, never confusing justice and vengeance, which plagues all of us, especially superheroes.

Information about the Author:
Gene Luen Yang
I began making comics and graphic novels over fifteen years ago.In 2006, my book American Born Chinese was published by First Second Books.  It 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.In 2013, First Second Books released Boxers & Saints, my two-volume graphic novel about the Boxer Rebellion.  Boxers & Saints was nominated for a National Book Award and won the L.A. Times Book Prize.
I’ve done a number of other graphic novels, including the comics continuation of the popular Nickelodeon cartoon Avatar: The Last Airbender. This has been a thrill because I’m a HUGE fan of the original series.
In addition cartooning, I also teach.  I’ve taught high school computer science for almost two decades.  I also teach creative writing through Hamline University’s MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults.
Sonny Liew
Sonny Liew is a Eisner-nominated comic artist and illustrator whose work include titles for DC Vertigo, Marvel, First Second Books, SLG and Disney, along with the Xeric-awarded Malinky Robot. He currently resides in Singapore, where he sleeps with the fishes.

Teen Graphic Novels

Reading Level/Interest:
Grades 9 & up

Books Similar to The Shadow Hero:
  • Captain America Series
  • Usagi Yojimbo by Stan Sakai

Awards & Recognition:

*"Yang and Liew reinvent this character in a brilliant homage that finally allows the Green Turtle to get his long overdue face time." - BCCB, STARRED REVIEW
*"There's plenty of humor in this lively, entertaining adventure story . . . At its heart, though, this book is a subtle comment on China's changing cultural landscape and growing multiculturism in America. A lovingly tongue-in-cheek homage." - Booklist, STARRED REVIEW
"The insight into Chinese mafia and 1940s American superhero comic book culture is wonderful." - VOYA
"Award-winning author Yang and artist Liew tackle a lesser-known aspect of history, breathing new life into the Green Turtle, a 1940s comic book hero . . . A creative take on the superhero genre." - School Library Journal
"Abundant humor, strong characters and cracking good action." - The Horn Book
"A golden-age comic superhero returns with a brand new Asian-American origin story . . . An entertaining and intelligent response to classic superhero stories." - Kirkus Reviews
STARRED REVIEW: "Racism, romance, humor, and identity all play important roles in Yang and Liew’s evocation of Hank’s life in pre-WWII San Francisco as they create an origin story that blends classic comics conventions with a distinctly Chinese perspective." - Publishers Weekly
Praise for Boxers & Saints:
“Read this, and come away shaking.” --Newbery Honor-winning author Gary Schmidt
“Masterful.” --Dave Eggers 
"Remarkable.” --The New York Times
“At once humorous and heartbreaking.” --The LA Times
"Epic.” --The Washington Post

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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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