Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Terrific Graphic Novel for Teens

This book was on my "to be read" pile for weeks, no months.  I have no idea what took me so long.  I mean I love the author.  His Boxers and Saints graphic novels are brilliant.  Also, I am always looking for books that will pull in older boys who have abandoned books during their "down time" in favor of computer games.   But now I am just furious with myself for waiting so long!

I read this in one sitting, ignoring the pleas of my privileged children so I could get to the end.  It is not often I can say that about a graphic novel that tells the back story of a superhero.  This is not my usual fare, but boy was it good.

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Title:The Shadow Hero

Authors:Gene Luen Yang & Sonny Liew

Target:Grades 6 and up


What this book is about: 
In this graphic novel, we learn the origin of the Green Turtle, a superhero made famous in the 1940s.  This book draws on the history of China after the collapse of the Ch’ing dynasty and brings in the folklore surrounding the mythical Chinese animal spirits.  We learn how a Hank, a son of Chinese immigrants, takes up the cause of injustice in Chinatown when the local mob threatens his way of life and he transforms himself into the first Asian superhero.

Why I love this book: 
First off, anything by Gene Luen Yang is guaranteed to be good.  He is the author of the game changing graphic novel Boxers and Saints.  He has elevated comic books to a whole new level, incorporating history, folklore, intelligent story telling and action.  As someone who is generally lukewarm on graphic novels, I couldn’t put this one down.  

I also love how the author gets readers interested in his Chinese heritage, making the stories come alive.  In this book, his protagonist is a Chinese American in the 1930s, not your typical superhero of the day.  

At the end of the story he provides a copy of the first Green Turtle comic book and some of the truths and myths surrounding it’s evolution.  It certainly pays homage to Chu HIng, one of the first Asian Americans working in the American comic book industry.

The book is full of action and humor (yes it is funny too), but at it’s core there is a subtle message of the changing landscape for Asian Americans during a volatile time in their history.

Who this book is for: 
You will find this book in the Teen section because of the mob violence depicted in the story.  However, the story itself is suitable for middle school.  It is up to you the level of comic book violence you feel comfortable with.  

Final thoughts: 
Call me a fan.  Gene Luen Yang will make a graphic novel lover out of me.

To purchase this book:
Click on the following link to connect to Amazon: The Shadow Hero  A portion of each purchase goes to support this blog at no cost to you.  Thank you for your support.

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