Legend of Auntie Po – book review

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The Legend of Auntie Po
by Shing Yin Khor
Graphic Novel
Historical Fiction
Tween
Grades 6+
* * * * Stars (Great!)

It’s 1885, and Mei lives in a logging camp with her father who runs the kitchen, while she makes the most delicious pies. She sees all of the inequalities between the white workers and the Chinese ones (and other people of color), though – in pay, room and board. She also sees it in the lack of opportunities that are open to her as a young, gay woman of Chinese descent. There’s a lot of resentment and prejudice outside of the camp, too, which escalates so much that Mei’s father is sent away, so Mr. Andersen (the man who runs the camp) won’t be shut down. In the midst of the turmoil, Mei does the other thing she does best – tells stories about Auntie Po (a female Chinese logger with a big blue buffalo named Pei Pei, who rivals Paul Bunyan and his big blue ox). Everyone is sure Auntie Po is just a story, but then Mei starts seeing her, talking to her, and even asking her for help. Camp life has its ups and downs and big changes are coming for everyone there. Mei and her father will have a chance to follow some of their dreams. This historical graphic novel is an eye-opener about life in logging camps in the late 19th century – in particular that of Chinese immigrants – and Mei is an appealing and relatable character.

Reviewed by YA Librarian