Attention comic book lovers: come explore a 19th century California logging camp and listen to a young Chinese girl spin stories and tall tales envisioning a better future.
The Legend of Auntie Po
by Shing Yin Khor
Kokila / Penguin, 2021
Amazon / your local library / Overdrive
Mei helps her father cook and feed dozens of hungry men in a Sierra Nevada logging camp, in 19th century California. She dreams of a better life and chafes at her limited opportunities, knowing that her white friend can go to university and get married. Mei loves reading and telling stories–at night, she enchants anyone who will listen with her stories of Auntie Po, a Chinese woman who “stood taller than the tallest white pine” and ran a logging camp with her “loyal blue buffalo Pei Pei.” Adult readers may recognize much of Paul Bunyan, I’m not really sure that young readers will know those stories.
I especially appreciate the way Khor draws readers into the story with this graphic novel, creating a visual sense of the logging camp, yet really focusing on the character’s feelings and struggles. Young readers often find it hard to feel a part of history, and this story will bring them into an important perspective that is often left out of the history books. Take a look at this preview from Google Books and see for yourself:
©2021 Mary Ann Scheuer, Great Kid Books