The Legend of Auntie Po

Finalist, National Book Awards 2021 for Young People's Literature

ISBN 9780525554882
Kokila / Penguin Random House
Shing Yin Khor

Shing Yin Khor is a cartoonist and installation artist exploring the Americana mythos and new human rituals. A Malaysian-Chinese immigrant, and an American citizen since 2011, they are also the author of The American Dream?, a graphic novel about travelling Route 66. (Photo credit: Shing Yin Khor) More about this author >

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Aware of the racial tumult in the years after the passage of the Chinese Exclusion Act, Mei tries to remain blissfully focused on her job, her close friendship with the camp foreman’s daughter, and telling stories about Paul Bunyan–reinvented as Po Pan Yin (Auntie Po), an elderly Chinese matriarch.

Anchoring herself with stories of Auntie Po, Mei navigates the difficulty and politics of lumber camp work and her growing romantic feelings for her friend Bee. The Legend of Auntie Po is about who gets to own a myth, and about immigrant families and communities holding on to rituals and traditions while staking out their own place in America.

Judges Citation

The sweet friendships and savory storytelling in The Legend of Auntie Po counter incipient racism in an 1885 Sierra Nevada logging camp. Vivid lines temper soft watercolors as Shing Yin Khor’s dynamic perspectives and keen pacing fortify Mei’s beguiling narration of a mythic Chinese matriarch and her ginormous blue water buffalo. Mei’s unrequited love for her friend Bee adds piquancy to this mix of questions about loyalty, heroism, and meaningful personal and political action.


Shing Yin Khor, 2021 NBAwards Young People’s Literature Finalist, reads from THE LEGEND OF AUNTIE PO