Shing Yin Khor’s story of a girl who tells stories in a 19th century logging camp about ‘Auntie Po’ was nominated in the Young People’s Literature category.
The Legend of Auntie Po by Shing Yin Khor has been nominated for a 2021 National Book Award in the Young People’s Literature category.
The graphic novel, which was published by Penguin’s Kokila imprint in June, is about a girl who works at a logging camp in the late 19th century, where she tells stories about “Auntie Po,” a mythical lumberjack similar to Paul Bunyan. So the story combines historical fiction with magical realism.
“Khor ties this all together with some really solid cartooning, playing with panels and negative space, and sometimes adding a decorative touch that’s also part of the story,” our own Brigid Alverson said in a review of the graphic novel. “At the top of the page, we see tiny silhouettes of a character, say, running and slowing down as she approaches her house. The story is straightforward enough for middle-graders to enjoy but sophisticated enough to intrigue older readers as well.”
It’s almost TOO on the nose that three book challenges involving graphic novels came up during Banned Books Week, but that’s exactly what has happened.
Katy, Texas: The Katy school board has canceled a virtual appearance by Jerry Craft, after an online petition claimed that his middle-grade graphic novels New Kid and Class Act promote Critical Race Theory. TV news station Click2Houston has a good overview of what happened: After a parent complained, the school district put the Zoom visit on hold and pulled the books from the library for review, per their policy; they will review the books within 15 days and are trying to reschedule the visit outside of the instructional day. Kara Yorio at School Library Journal has more details on the backstory: The petition (since removed) urged the school board to cancel Craft’s appearance, claiming that “these books … are wrought with critical race theory in the form of teaching children that their white privilege inherently comes with microaggressions which must be kept in check.” New Kid has won numerous awards and was the first graphic novel to win the Newbery Medal; both books are best-sellers.