American Born Chinese is a graphic novel that has three stories that are told in parallel. the first involves the fable of a monkey king disciplined i...moreAmerican Born Chinese is a graphic novel that has three stories that are told in parallel. the first involves the fable of a monkey king disciplined in the ways of kung fu. the second is of the American born Chinese boy Jin Wang and his Taiwanese friend Wei-Chen. and the third and final story is of Danny, an all-American boy who is visited by his Chinese cousin Chin-Kee.
through each of the seemingly unrelated stories, we see each character’s solitary need to identify with peers, to shed their cultural stigmas and become individuals. as the monkey king tries to stubbornly deny the fact that he is a monkey and is instead a god, and as Jin Wang shuns his Asian friends for fear of negative association, we see the struggles of culture and race from very different, yet similar perspectives. personally, as an American born Japanese individual, i could relate to some of the themes and appreciated the simplicity and humor in the presentation.
the writing style is very simple and clear, making it appropriate for nearly all ages. and although there are three storylines, the intention of the book is singular. through the merging of the three stories, this book delivers a powerful message of tolerance and truth to self. and bonus, it’s packaged in the cute and often hilarious wrapping that Yang provides.
the best thing about American Born Chinese, hands down, was the graphic art. the vibrant colors and cartoonish artwork really brought the story to life and there was much to appreciate, even in the absence of text.
altogether, this might have to be my favorite of the Printz winners that i have read. that being said, i was a little surprised to learn that American Born Chinese beat out The Book Thief to win the award in 2007, since i absolutely ADORED Zusak’s writing. regardless, i think this is very much a worthy book that packs a powerful punch of themes and imagery. highly recommended!(less)
let me first state that i have not read the book version of this, so i have no means for comparison. i picked this up at the library as my first graph...morelet me first state that i have not read the book version of this, so i have no means for comparison. i picked this up at the library as my first graphic novel ever, so i also have no sense of expertise on graphic novels or their quality/merit. so, that out of the way, i really enjoyed Coraline, although i think i would have enjoyed it even more if it hadn't been dark outside when i read it. it was just a tad on the creepy side, which was definitely not what i was expecting from my first graphic novel. yeah, i'm a wuss.
the story naturally centers on a little girl named Coraline, whose family has just moved into a large estate that is shared by a couple of elderly ladies and their dogs, and an old man and his mice. they are all quirky and fun and keep Coraline occupied when she isn't off exploring the land surrounding the property, as a latchkey kid of sorts. we jump right into the creepiness when Coraline finds a locked door that occasionally opens to another portion of the house, which brings her into an alternate version of her life, with zombie-like versions of everyone else.
my favorite part of this, being that it was my first graphic novel, was the art. i found myself lingering on the images, studying them, even when there was no text. there was an unbelievable amount of detail to the drawings, at times, that was really impressive. it could just be my lack of familiarity with graphic novels, but there was so much to take in that it was sometimes overwhelming.
the storyline itself was very simple and clearly written, which was pretty impressive considering how few words are really in the book. the characters could have been better developed, but i did appreciate how clever Coraline was when it became apparent that she might be stuck in her alternate life forever. as a pseudo coming-of-age book, and a definite nightmare inducing children's book, this was a good choice and i'm glad i picked it up.
as my first graphic novel, i was very happy. it was simple and beautifully executed and has definitely opened me up to the potential of having the graphic novel make a more regular appearance on my bookshelf. and for that, i'm very thankful!(less)