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.”
Khor’s graphic novel is up against four prose books in the category:
- Malinda Lo, Last Night at the Telegraph Club
- Kyle Lukoff, Too Bright to See
- Kekla Magoon, Revolution in Our Time: The Black Panther Party’s Promise to the People
- Amber McBride, Me (Moth)
The final selection will be announced Nov. 17.
The National Book Awards are given out by the National Book Foundation, which, in addition to the awards, “produces numerous educational and public programs that help connect readers to books in new and meaningful ways.” The awards have been given out since 1950.