By Gene Luen Yang

Did you ever wonder what a young boy, Monkey King, and the ultimate negative Chinese stereotype have in common? Well to find out you will have to read American Born Chinese. This book is about what a boy goes through growing up. It is created in a way that will get a boys attention and keep it, but it also is a "typical" chinese fable, with gods, universal travel and a moral.

When Jin Wang was a young boy growing up in San Fransisco, he dreamed of being a transformer when he grew up, "A robot in disguise! Like this one! He changes into a truck...see? More than meets the eye!" (p. 28). As he gets older, he looses interest in transformers and other toys and begins taking interest in a young girl. However, he faces challenges of racism and discovering himself.

Long before, the ancient Monkey King of Flower-Fruit Mountain dreamed of becoming one of the gods. He mastered "the four major disciplines of invulnerability" (p.51) in order to bully his way in to becoming a god. He found himself battling with other gods in order to prove his worth. Even challenging the god of all, Tze-Yo-Tzuh.

Danny is a cool kid just trying to get a date. Then his crazy cousin Chin-Kee comes to visit him from China. He explains to a friend that "every year around this time, I finally start getting the hang of things, you know? I've made some friends, gotten a handle on my schoolwork, even started talking to some of the ladies, I finally start coming into my own. Then he comes along for one of his visits...follows me to school, talking his stupid talk and eating his stupid food. Embarrassing the crap out of me" (p. 127). Danny can not stand his cousin's stereotypical Chinese behavior.

These three tales are woven together into a creative coming of age story. Ultimately, Jin Wang is faced with what it means to be an American born Chinese. It is a humorous and action-packed tale, but it also deals with stereotypes, friendship, prejudice and finding one's own identity. "To find your true identity...that is the highest of all freedoms" (p. 149) but will Jin Wang truly understand?

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Gene Luen Yang

Gene Yang began his career as a graphic novelist when he started drawing comic books in the fifth grade. He has since written and drawn a number of graphic novels including Duncan’s Kingdom and The Rosary Comic Book. In 1997, he received the Xeric Grant, a prestigious comics industry grant, for Gordon Yamamoto and the King of the Geeks, his first comics work as an adult. He was named a finalist for a National Book Award for American Born Chinese in 2006. He lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with his wife and children and teaches at a Roman Catholic high school.

Awards for American Born Chinese
Michael L. Printz Award
National Book Award Finalist Best Graphic Novel—Comic of the Year
American Library Association Best Book for Young Adults, Top Ten List
Bank Street Best Children's Book of the Year
Booklist Editor's Choice Book
Booklist Top Ten Graphic Novel for Youth
NPR Holiday Pick
NYPL Book for the Teen Age
Publisher's Weekly Best Book of the Year
Publisher's Weekly Comics Week Best Comic of the Year
San Francisco Chronicle Best Book of the Year
School Library Journal Best Book of the Year
YALSA Great Graphic Novel for Teens, Top Ten List
Library Media Editor's Choice for 2007
Eisner Awards 2007 Nominee - Best Graphic Album — New
Eisner Awards 2007 Nominee - Best Coloring to Lark Pien
The Reuben Award for Best Comic Book
The Chinese American Librarians Association 2006/2007 Best Book Award
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More books by award winning author Gene Luen Yang
Gordon and the King of the Geeks
Loyola Chin and the San Peligran Order
The Rosary Comic Book
The Motherless One



External Links

Gene Yang's tribute to the Monkey King
"Comics and other stuff by Gene Yang"
Online exerpt from American Born Chinese
Read About Comics

More about the author:
Gene Yang's Blog and other fun stuff
Info about Gene Yang and contact opportunities
An online interview with Gene Yang
National Book Foundation Biography on Gene Yang

For Teachers:
Lesson Plan for Chinese Born American
Information about comics in education
Math teaching unit using comics by Gene Yang

Created By:
JoAnne, Salina, Brittany, and Terri