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Paper Son: The Inspiring Story of Tyrus Wong, Immigrant and Artist

4.29  ·  Rating details ·  586 ratings  ·  146 reviews
An inspiring picture-book biography of animator Tyrus Wong, the Chinese American immigrant responsible for bringing Disney's Bambi to life.

Before he became an artist named Tyrus Wong, he was a boy named Wong Geng Yeo. He traveled across a vast ocean from China to America with only a suitcase and a few papers. Not papers for drawing--which he loved to do--
Hardcover, 40 pages
Published September 24th 2019 by Schwartz & Wade Books
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Average rating 4.29  · 
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 ·  586 ratings  ·  146 reviews

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Lisa  (not getting friends updates) Vegan
Inspirational and grim at the same time. It’s a beautifully done book, but I almost didn’t give it 5 stars because the lifelong difficulties and challenges this man experienced had me feeling sad. I don’t think the author & illustrator meant to have that be the focus for the reader but that’s how I felt.

His story conveys the difficulties immigrants face, and in this case not exactly legal immigrants, and how these impediments, especially for those from certain ethnic & racial groups, have alway
Nov 21, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Those looking for stories about people starting a new life in a different country
Recommended to Hilary by: Lisa (not getting friends updates) Vegan
This picture book tells the story of Tyrus Wong who immigrated to the US from China. When he arrived as a young boy he had to pretend he was from a wealthy family, he was questioned and luckily the story they had both memorised worked and they were allowed to stay. The rest of the story tells of Tyrus' life and struggles to become an artist.

It was so sad that his mother was left behind, I kept hoping that she would join them but it looks like she wasn't able to. The treatment he received from Di
Ross Blocher
Dec 24, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This is a beautiful presentation of the life of Tyrus Wong. Most people will have seen Tyrus's work in the film Bambi, for which he defined the soft, painterly look of its backgrounds. Born Wong Geng Yeo, Tyrus arrived as a Chinese immigrant to the US as a child in 1919, a "paper son" with an assumed name to pose as the scion of a wealthy merchant. After training as an artist and infusing his western art education with Chinese sensibilities, he was brought on at Disney Animation Studios in 1938. ...more
Wow! This is an incredible true story that had me tearing up by the end. Do you remember the lush, atmospheric backgrounds in Bambi? That aesthetic was the work of Tyrus Wong, who stepped up from being an "in betweener" at Disney (animating the minute movements between the key images) to show his skills at blending Eastern and Western styles, influenced animation forever, but was only credited as a background artist. And the story of how he and his father immigrated to America is equally amazing ...more
Edward Sullivan
Wonderful introduction to the life and work of the little-known but highly influential Chinese-American immigrant artist.
Anna Kim
Jan 31, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Lovely book about Tyrus Wong, who created the beautiful background scenes for the Disney film, "Bambi". I had heard of him, but I didn't know much about him, so this book was a nice introduction. I also did not know that Wong passed away in 2016, so recently, and that he was over 100 years old! ...more
Oct 08, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Breathtaking art and rich storytelling brings to life the unsung story of immigrant and artist, Tyrus Wong. One hundred years ago, he arrived in the United States and was separated from his father by immigration authorities enforcing the Chinese Exclusion Act. After they were reunited, Tyrus and his father took advantage of opportunities in "Gold Mountain," which led to Tyrus developing the landscape style that Walt Disney chose for Bambi. A powerful story of courage, perseverance, and commitmen ...more
Jul 11, 2019 rated it it was amazing
SO. GOOD. With beautiful illustrations. I learned so much about Tyrus Wong, a Chinese immigrant who eventually designed the backgrounds for Disney's Bambi. ...more
Oct 15, 2019 rated it really liked it
Tyrus Wong entered the United States by using papers that belonged to another Chinese boy. In 1919, Chinese people entering the U.S. had to prove that they were of high status. Tyrus and his father both traveled under other people’s identities, making him a paper son. He had to memorize details of the other boy’s life and village, knowing that he would be tested to see if his identity was real. When they reached immigration, his father was let through easily but Tyrus was held for weeks until he ...more
A wonderful true story about Tyrus Wong a Chinese immigrant who came to the US during the Chinese Exclusion Act . Times were tough for these Chinese immigrants because they were only allowed to come to the US if they could prove that they would help make the US better through their trade. People who had a jobs like business men, or highly skilled people might be let into the US if they had the paperwork to prove that they had expertise in an area that the US wanted. Tyrus had to memorize the inf ...more
C.E. G
Oct 29, 2019 rated it really liked it
This stunningly illustrated picture book follows the life of Tyrus Wong, the man behind the groundbreaking background art of the Disney classic movie, Bambi. When Tyrus was a child, the Chinese Exclusion Act stipulated that Chinese immigrants could only enter the United States if they could prove they were related to someone of high status. Tyrus and his father had to pretend to be wealthy merchants in order to immigrate to the United States. I'd never heard of Tyrus Wong or "paper sons," and it ...more
Jan 25, 2021 rated it really liked it
Absolutely gorgeous illustrations with such a well written story this book made me cry at work. I'm so thankful to the writer for sharing this story about a man who did not receive the recognition he deserved in his lifetime. My only concern is regarding the drawing of the eyes of the Asian versus the white characters----with the discussion around "slanted" eyes and stereotypes in picture books this seems like the wrong move. ...more
Sandy Brehl
I was familiar with the history of "paper sons" and the harsh inequity of American immigration policies toward Asians for many decades. I was totally unaware of Tyrus Wong, a Chinese-American-Disney artist whose name should be familiar and revered as an icon in animation and in art. Both the text and and the images bring to life a story of struggle and resilience, one that can and will inspire ANYONE, immigrant or not, artist or not.
There are rich examples throughout this picture book of lyrical
Jan 06, 2020 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Chinese and immigration requests
Recommended to June by:
Introduces how Chinese would memorize another persons information in order to be able to immigrate to America. Wong innovated the style to do backgrounds for Disney's animated movie and was responsible for Bambi.

The Author's Note mentions how the Chinese Exclusion Act was the first federal law designed to prevent an ethnic group from entering the US. Exceptions were made for high social status or blood relatives of American citizens leading to forged papers and immigrants assuming false identiti
Cindy Mitchell *Kiss the Book*
Paper Son : The Inspiring Story of Tyrus Wong, Immigrant and Artist by Julie Leung and Chris Sasaki PICTURE BOOK Schwartz & Wade Random House, 2019. $18. 978-1524771874



When Tyrus Wong was only nine years old he immigrated from China with his father - but, because of the Chinese Exclusion Act, he arrived under a false name with a history that wasn’t his - pretending to be of a more important social class. As he grew up he developed a
I'm kind of obsessed with Tyrus Wong's masterful background art for Bambi, so I loved learning more about his background. Interesting info about his immigration as a "paper son", and how he worked his way up at Disney. ...more
Aug 17, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Paper Son is a beautifully crafted own voices picture book about an extraordinary artist. Through smart, well researched and well-presented text and stunning, stylized illustrations, the author and illustrator bring the life and work of Tyrus Wong to life wonderfully. This lovely picture book will inspire and encourage thoughtful discussions.
Apr 16, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: children
How many children’s books have made me furious with Walt Disney? So far, just one. Spoiler alert: he deserved a lot better credit for Bambi and was fired unjustly. But that’s not the end of his story. It was inspiring.
Interesting story. I wish there would have been a bit more information on Wong's work. ...more
Stories about little-known individuals who were influential in some way or who persevered against great odds also leave me inspired but also troubled by what they had to endure. There's probably no one, especially of a certain age, who hasn't watch the Walt Disney film Bambi and been impressed by the artwork. While everyone knows the name "Walt Disney" and many of his employees went on to their own form of fame, few have ever heard of Tyrus Wong, the man responsible for those amazing nature scen ...more
Qing Zhuang
Nov 19, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
I am grateful for those authors and illustrators who are telling the life stories of some wonderful people we might otherwise never know. Julie Leung's Paper Son does share the special life of Tyrus Wong, who painted the impressionistic background of Bambi, the movie. Though he received only minor credit for it, many believe it was a vital part of the movie's feelings. The meaning of "Paper Sons" occurred during the Chinese Exclusion Act. Passed in 1882, it meant to exclude lowly Chinese labore ...more
Ben Truong
Apr 14, 2020 rated it really liked it
Paper Son: The Inspiring Story of Tyrus Wong, Immigrant and Artist is a children's picture book written by Julie Leung and illustrated by Chris Sasaki. It recounts the life of this extraordinary artist in Tyrus Wong.

Tyrus Wong was a Chinese-born American artist. He was a painter, animator, calligrapher, muralist, ceramicist, lithographer and kite maker, as well as a set designer and storyboard artist. One of the most-influential and celebrated Asian-American artists of the 20th century, Wong was
Mar 20, 2021 rated it really liked it
This was the fascinating story of Wong Geng Yeo, Tyrus Wong, the artist behind the lush background scenes of Disney's Bambi.

He immigrated to California from China in 1919 during the Chinese Exclusion Act. He was a "paper son" since he and his father used forged documents in order to appear as Chinese citizens of high social status. He was detained on Angel Island for many weeks, apart from his father, at the age of 9, until the immigration agents questioned him and allowed him into the country.
Jul 07, 2020 rated it really liked it
The fascnating story of Tyrus Wong immigrating to the US from China with his father is actually a true story! Who knew that he was a "Paper Son," meaning his father tutored him with papers describing another chinese boy from a high status family, that he would have to impersonate. These high status chinese immigrants were the only ones permitted to enter the US. In this beautifully painted story, readers will find an example of how hard Tyrus and his father worked to pursue their dreams of becom ...more
From ALA's media awards page: The 2021 Asian/Pacific American Awards for Literature Picture Book winner is “Paper Son: The Inspiring Story of Tyrus Wong, Immigrant and Artist,” written by Julie Leung, illustrated by Chris Sasaki, and published by Schwartz & Wade, an imprint of Random House Children’s Books, a division of Penguin Random House.

"'Paper Son: The Inspiring Story of Tyrus Wong, Immigrant and Artist' is a beautifully illustrated and well-researched picture book biography that highlight
John Clark
Dec 07, 2019 rated it it was amazing
There is an incredible amount of information in this picture biography for younger children. In fact, it's a book I'd encourage teachers and parents to share more than once with kids since, if given time to ponder some of the pieces of Tyrus' life, they'll most likely have questions an additional reading will answer. Imagine coming to a hostile new country (that's what America was for Chinese immigrants at that time) when you were very young. Having to memorize endless pieces of information to c ...more
Stephanie Bange
Jan 15, 2020 rated it it was amazing
The subtitle says it all...

Leung was inspired to write this picture book biography about Tyrus Wong, an artist and immigrant from China, whose idea for the painting style for the background of the Walt Disney movie Bambi was groundbreaking. She does not pull punches when talking about the racism Wong experienced when he arrived in the U.S. and when looking for work as a Disney animator.

Illustrator Chris Sasaki's digital illustrations for this book are stunning. They look like a mixed media work
Really gorgeous book about Chinese-American immigrant Tyrus Wong, and his artwork, most notably as the art director for Walt Disney's Bambi. While Tyrus Wong's artwork and accomplishments are incredible, I was quite stricken with the timeliness (or timelessness) of his situation as a young child; Due to the Chinese Exclusion Act, Tyrus and his father had to come to America on false documents. After arriving, Tyrus was forcibly separated from his father and detained for several weeks while immigr ...more
Karen Gedeon
Paper Son: The Inspiring Story of Tyrus Wong, Immigrant and Artist written by Julie Leung, illustrated by Chris Sasaki – 2021 Picture Book Winner of Asian/Pacific American Award for Literature. Paper Son beautifully tells Wong’s story of being a “paper son”, a boy who exists on paper, but not in real life so he and his father could immigrate to the United States in the 1920s. The story gently explains the struggles he faced in America and support he received from his father. As an adult, Wong wo ...more
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JULIE LEUNG was raised in the sleepy suburbs of Atlanta, Georgia, though it may be more accurate to say she grew up in Oz and came of age in Middle-earth.

By day, she is the marketing director for Random House’s sci-fi/fantasy imprint, Del Rey Books.

In her free time, she enjoys furtively sniffing books at used bookstores and winning at obscure board games. Her favorite mode of transportation is th

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