I love a book that expresses culture and emotion through food and folklore. Mei and her father Hao (who are great cooks, Mei rocks at making pies) are living at a logging site that is rife with racial divides. Being Chinese American during 1886 in Sierra Nevada, working for white folks creates challenges, which is portrayed through Mei’s friendship with Bee, the head logger’s daughter. Mei is a master storyteller, and through her tall tales of larger than life Auntie Po and her blue ox PeiPei, she brings a new sense of hope for everyone around her.
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.
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.
NATIONAL BOOK AWARD FINALIST! 2021 HORN BOOK FANFARE LIST
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