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

4.25  ·  Rating details ·  200 ratings  ·  52 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--but
Hardcover, 40 pages
Published September 24th 2019 by Schwartz & Wade Books (first published 2019)
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Average rating 4.25  · 
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 ·  200 ratings  ·  52 reviews

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Lisa 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,
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 Vegan
This picture book tells the story of Tyrus Wong who immigrated to the US from Japan. 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
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 ...more
Edward Sullivan
Wonderful introduction to the life and work of the little-known but highly influential Chinese-American immigrant artist.
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 ...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
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
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
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
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.
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 ...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.
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
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 ...more
Becky B
A picture book biography of Tyrus Wong, an artist and illustrator who developed the backgrounds for Disney's animated feature film Bambi.

I never knew about paper sons until I read The Fire Horse Girl by Honeyman in which the main character comes through Angel Island disguised as a paper son. Tyrus was a paper son too, meaning he came into America on someone else's immigration papers bought at a crazy high price. (The extreme measures were due to super strict immigration laws.) This is an
Dec 25, 2019 rated it really liked it
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 an interest and a talent in art, eventually working for Disney and contributing to the success of Bambi.

I do love picture book biographies. Includes an author's and an illustrator's note, along with photographs of Wong. A
Samantha Mairson
Dec 16, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: school kids
Tyrus, an immigrant son named Wong Geng Yeo, travels to America from China with his father. He becomes an artist. He is responsible for creating the setting of Bambi, and goes on to become a "Gold Mountain" Asian-American success. The book is titled for the "paper sons and daughters" that falsified documents to emigrate to the U.S. at a time when there were laws minimizing immigrants from China (unless they had high status, etc). The illustrations by Chris Sasaki would probably make Tyrus proud ...more
Victoria Whipple
A biography of artist Tyrus Wong, who immigrated to the US with his father as a "paper son." Leung explains the term "paper son" as a technique that was used by Chinese immigrants to the US in the early 1900s. Because of restrictive immigration policies, only Chinese of high social status or who were relatives of American citizens were accepted so immigrants would make up identities using forged papers. This is the story of one such person, who became a successful artist and lived a long, ...more
Dec 07, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Related to another picture book of the same name (by Helen Foster James and Virginia Shin-Mui Loh) only by the fact that both the main characters arrived in America under assumed identities, this particular book is a biography of Tyrus Wong, the amazing artist who created the innovative landscape artwork behind the hugely popular animated movie, Bambi. The story details his early struggles and the other hardships of his life due to the poor treatment from Disney Studio and his being an ...more
Zan Porter
Presents the life of the immigrant Chinese American artist who was an early employee at the Disney Studio and went on to become an important artist who worked in different mediums.

Very inspiring true story of a very talented young man who faced hardship and discrimination, and yet never gave up on his dream to be a successful artist. I would recommend this book as an inspiration for those facing adversity, as well as an example to someone who developed a passion, and never stopped drawing and
Nov 23, 2019 rated it really liked it
Inspiring read indeed!
Also absolutely gorgeous illustrations! Do find a hard cover copy to read, you will find your young readers pouring through each page, admiring and gazing at the lovely illustrations or an artist who gave us the beautiful rendition of Bambi.
A beautiful tribute, this picture book biography does justice to a tale of passion, hard work and following your dreams. HIGHLY recommend reading for all age groups!
Fascinating picture book biography of Tyrus Wong, a Chinese-American immigrant whose artistic style changed the landscape of Disney animation forever. Backmatter explains the Chinese Exclusion Act that Wong and his father subverted with their papers, and images from the Wong family support of the story.

The chop for the author and illustrator's names was an especially nice touch!
Sep 08, 2019 rated it really liked it
Lovely and informative story of Tyrus Wong and an introduction to his influential art. Especially well done for a picture book format is the background information provided about the Chinese Exclusion Act and the practice of "paper sons."

Additional information if provided in the back matter on Tyrus Wong as well as an Author and Illustrator's notes.
Good info, the third book, or so, I've read about artists that went through employment at Disney Studios. Back-matter is largely redundant to the story. I've read the obit for Tyrus Wong and think it could have departed more from that information in the story text.
Anneke Alnatour
I did not know Tyrus Wong, and it was a great introduction to Chinese American history. I was familiar with the paper sons and daughters, but not really how it worked. It is a disgrace how such an artist did not get the credit he deserved. Great history lesson for the kids there!
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.
A gorgeous biography
and beautiful images!
Kimberly A.
Oct 22, 2019 rated it liked it
Beautiful artwork w/ a choppy story. 3.5 stars
Melissa Mcavoy
Nov 12, 2019 rated it really liked it
3 1/2 stars. Interesting artist, well told, handsome art and book design. I felt it was a little long and missing a bit of a spark - he never really came alive for me.
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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