Shining Star :: Book Sharing Monday - Eva Varga

January 25, 2010

Shining Star, The Anna May Wong Story
Written by Paula Yo
Illustrated by Lin Wang

While scanning the new arrivals at our local library last week, I came across this biography of a Chinese-American woman. Because my daughter is studying Mandarin and is fascinated by Chinese culture (all Asian cultures, really), I do my best to find books and resource materials that will enrich her understanding.

The cover illustrating was captivating and the story that unfolded before us was one we were not previously familiar. I love it when books open new doors to historical events and people.


Anna May Wong–the first Chinese-American movie star–was a pioneer of the cinema. Her spirited determination to make her dreams come true in the face of discrimination is an inspiration to all. Full color.


“Yoo spotlights a famous Chinese-American actress from the golden days of Hollywood. Growing up poor in Los Angeles’s Chinatown, Anna May Wong was fascinated with the local movie scene. ‘She regularly skipped school to watch the action on the set and ask questions about filmmaking.’ Lin Wang’s (A Single Red Thread) elegant paintings in muted hues capture the actress’s emotions in her expressive eyes framed by dark bangs. Full-page spreads showcase her stylish garb — snazzy flapper attire or traditional Chinese dress — and her early-20th-century surroundings. The conversational narrative uses many descriptive vignettes from her life (e.g., a girlhood visit to the movie theater, a trip to China) to briskly move the story from her youth to her early movie career. Peppered throughout are examples of the racism she experienced (‘Movie studios forbade actors and actresses of color to kiss their white costars’). Always countering these are Anna May’s responses, at first her strong feelings and, later, her decision to only portray roles that didn’t denigrate Chinese-Americans. A fascinating account of the life of a determined actress. Ages 6 — 11.” Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)

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