The Legend of Auntie Po by Shing Yin Khor

The Legend of Auntie Po by Shing Yin Khor. Kokila, 2021. 9780525554882

Rating: 1- 5 (5 is excellent or a Starred review) 4

Format:  Hardcover

Genre: Historical Fiction

What did you like about the book?    This graphic novel takes a look at the life of Chinese immigrants in nineteenth century America. Mei resides in a logging camp in 1885 along with her father who is the camp cook. Mei makes the most delicious pies and regales the youngsters with tales of the giant Auntie Po and her huge blue buffalo Pei Pei, stories seemingly inspired by Paul Bunyan. Auntie Po serves as a guardian for the loggers in Mei’s stories and is a source of hope in the face of danger and prejudice.  The manager of the logging camp, Mr. Anderson, enjoys a friendship with Mei’s father, but the logging company treats the Chinese laborers as inferiors.  As Mei deals with discrimination she is also dealing with her crush on Bee, her best friends and daughter of Mr. Anderson.  The soft watercolor illustrations bring to life the logging camp and Mei’s fantastical tales of Auntie Po.  This is a wonderful coming of age story that tackles identity and racism, issues that are still very much a part of life today.

Anything you didn’t like about it?    No

To whom would you recommend this book?   Hand this to graphic novel readers who enjoyed Stargazing by Jen Wang and American Born Chinese by Gene Luen Yang.  Readers who enjoyed the historical fiction novel Prairie Lotus by Linda Park Sue should also like this one.

Who should buy this book?  Public libraries and high school libraries

Where would you shelve it?  YA graphic novels

Should we (librarians/readers) put this at the top of our “to read” piles?   No

Reviewer’s Name, Library (or school), City:  Catherine Coyne, Mansfield Public Library, Mansfield, MA

Date of review:   August 30, 2021        

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