Monday, April 16, 2007

American Born Chinese, by Gene Luen Yang

American Born Chinese is the big kahuna of the novels that I have read so far for this project. It is the 2007 Printz Award winner for literary excellence in young adult literature.

For a great review of this novel, visit A Fuse #8 Production: Review of the Day: American Born Chinese. BTW, I love Fuse #8's blog--it is a great resource for information about children's literature, and its a lot of fun to read. I hope one day to be as witty as this children's librarian.

For insight on Gene Luen Yang's creative process, visit A Fuse #8 Production: Monkey King Mana and follow the links to Yang's own article about his book. The commentary on the relationship between the Monkey King fable, Buddhism, and Christianity is really fascinating.

Overall, I very much enjoyed this novel, and have already recommended it to many teachers. I think middle school students (7th and 8th graders especially), and 9th and 10th graders, would especially enjoy this book. The artistry is powerful, and the interweaving of three different stories provides a lot to talk about, in addition to the issues of cultural identity and interrelationships. If you are using themes like diversity, stereotypes, and overcoming adversity to structure your curriculum, this might be a great book for you. History teachers discussing immigration in their courses also might use this book to examine some of the impacts of making a transition to life in the United States, not only for new arrivals, but also for the second generation.

My rising 6th grader picked up this book and thought it was a little strange (mainly because the issues it raises are more adolescent than pre-adolescent). It is probably better suited to 7th grade and up, but there is no reason younger adolescents can't read it and enjoy it too.

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