Modern fable with an epic twist.


This is a story that weaves together stories of a boy growing up, stereotypes, and Chinese Fable. Meet Jin Wang. As the only Chinese American at his new school he finds racism, bullying, and isolation at every turn. Things get better when he meets and befriends Wei-Chen, a Taiwanese boy. But not totally. When Jin realizes he has a crush on a white American girl, he scrambles to fit in.

Enter the Monkey King, who rules the land of Fruit-Flower with thousands of monkey subjects. But he wants more: he wants to be hailed as a god and deity in his own right. The Monkey King's story one of the oldest Chinese fables.

Last but not least, is Chin-kee, the embodiment of all negative Chinese stereotypes. Chin-Kee visits his cousin Danny once a year and is intent on ruining Danny's life. Because of the shame brought on by his cousin, Danny changes schools every year. Chin-kee is visiting again, but things will be much worse this time around. The lives of Jing Wang, the Monkey King, and Chin-kee soon come together in an epic twist in this modern fable.

BTSYA / Teen Reader (17):
The author does an amazing job blending visual and literary elements to create a multi-layered and complex story. The crafty manipulation of different plots and diverse characters examine ideas of identity, self-acceptance, and culture. There is no other way his story could have been told, which makes the graphic novel such a unique work. Like all of Gene Luen Yang's books, he explores Chinese stereotypes and the Asian-American experience to showcase the pressures of assimilation and identity.

Readers who love graphic novels and/or anyone looking for a book with a diverse cast should read this book. I would buy it as a gift for someone 12 or older.

Reader Enjoyment Factors:

Sophisticated, realistic, and accessible to all readers! American Born Chinese is a story that will have readers cheering, reflecting on their beliefs, and laughing out loud.

Content Awareness Factors:

There are minor sexual reference and violence within this book. Profanity and ethnic slurs are also part of this story.

Type of Book:
This is a graphic novel grounded in Chinese culture and the perspective of the Chinese experience in America.
Educational Themes:

As our teen reader says, there are many layers to the story. Readers can easily see themselves in Jin Wang: figuring out who you are, being true to yourself and your culture, wanting to fit in. Jin's experience as a victim of stereotype creates an interesting contrast with Chin-kee. What advice would your reader have for Jin in countering these types of perception?

Chinese culture has a rich tradition of folklore and fables, and the Monkey King story may inspire more interest in that regard. Are there other, similar stories that you are familiar with in other cultures?

Reading Level:
Recommended Age To Read By Yourself:
10 and Up
Recommended Age To Read Together:
10 and Up
Age of child:
Teen STAR Review Team, Be the Star You Are!™ . Reviewer age: 17
Purchase Recommendation:
Buy! There are many layers to the story and readers will enjoy reconnecting with Jin Wang.

Title American Born Chinese
Author Gene Luen Yang
Publisher Square Fish Books, Imprint Macmillan Children's Publishing Group © 2008
Illustrators Gene Luen Yang
ISBN 9780312384487
Material Paperback
Cost $10.99
Genres Comics | Graphic Novels, Asia | Asian People
be the star you are Cybils
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