Shing Yin Khor's delightful graphic novel makes old tall tales new again and shows us the American frontier as it really was - lively, multicultural, and fiercely independent. While our hero Mei spends her days baking pies and dreaming of giant blue water buffaloes, the harsh realities of racism and xenophobia are never far away. But Mei's fantastic stories have a secret power. Maybe, if Mei tells them well enough, she can create a place where everyone is welcome to settle in and listen.
Shing Yin Khor’s graphic novel breathes new life into the Paul Bunyan myth with this heartfelt coming-of-age story about a queer Chinese American teen living and working in a Sierra Nevada logging camp. The only thing I love more than this book is Shing’s personal collection of logging tools, saws and axes.
Part historical fiction, part fable, and 100 percent adventure. Thirteen-year-old Mei reimagines the myths of Paul Bunyan as starring a Chinese heroine while she works in a Sierra Nevada logging camp in 1885.
Cover may vary.
Aware of the racial tumult in the years after the passage of the Chinese Exclusion Act, Mei tries to remain blissfully focused on her job, her close friendship with the camp foreman's daughter, and telling stories about Paul Bunyan--reinvented as Po Pan Yin (Auntie Po), an elderly Chinese matriarch.
Anchoring herself with stories of Auntie Po, Mei navigates the difficulty and politics of lumber camp work and her growing romantic feelings for her friend Bee. The Legend of Auntie Po is about who gets to own a myth, and about immigrant families and communities holding on to rituals and traditions while staking out their own place in the United States.
About the Author
Shing Yin Khor is a cartoonist and installation artist exploring the Americana mythos and new human rituals. A Malaysian-Chinese immigrant, and an American citizen since 2011, they are also the author of The American Dream?, a graphic novel about travelling Route 66.
An Eisner Award Winner for Best Publication for Teens A National Book Award Finalist A California Book Award Finalist A 2022 Bank Street College Best Children's Book of the Year A 2022 ALSC Notable Children’s Book A 2021 Horn Book Fanfare List Selection A 2021 ALA Best Graphic Novels for Children Reading List Selection A 2022 Little Maverick Graphic Novel Reading List Selection A 2022-2023 Black-Eyed Susan Book Award Nominee A 2023 Rhode Island Middle School Book Award Nominee A 2022-2023 Vermont Golden Dome Book Award Nominee
PRAISE FOR THE LEGEND OF AUNTIE PO
"Hopeful, humane, empowering story." --New York Times Book Review
“In this reclamatory and illuminating graphic novel, Khor underscores the healing power of sharing stories.” --Shelf Awareness
“A sweet book that places a Chinese girl squarely at the center of the frame... the art is lovely, it's enjoyable for young kids who can relate to Mei as a protagonist or enjoyable to adults who only remember what it was like to be thirteen.” --NPR Pop Culture Happy Hour
* "A timely and ultimately hopeful tale." --Kirkus Reviews, starred review.
* "A multifaceted addition to the historical graphic novel genre, this unique bildungsroman successfully presents many formidable topics with intentional and comprehensive grace." --The Horn Book, starred review.
*"A moving read that skillfully explores themes of racism, privilege, and identity. A must for all libraries." - School Library Journal, starred review.
“On the surface, this story is the birth of a folktale, but the author explores much deeper topics: grief, family, loyalty, racism, and self-discovery. … Watercolors are beautiful and illustrations are clean and simple, conveying a childlike air while tackling serious subject matter.” --Booklist
"Khor (The American Dream?) straddles myth and harsh realities via stunning digital pencil and hand-painted watercolor art that highlights cornerstones of Chinese culture. Much will resonate with diasporic readers, though any reader will find Mei’s journey cathartic." --Publishers Weekly