El Chino

Allen Say, Author, Yang, Author
Allen Say, Author, Yang, Author Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (HMH) $17 (32p) ISBN 978-0-395-52023-9
Reviewed on: 10/31/1990
Release date: 10/01/1990
Caldecott Honor recipient Say ( The Boy of the Three-Year Nap ) relates the stirring true story of Arizona-born Billy Wong, the first-ever Chinese bullfighter. As Billy grows up, his father tells him, over and over again, ``In America you can be anything you want to be.'' This advice stands Billy in good stead as he faces one seemingly insurmountable obstacle after another on his triumphant way to the ring (``Only the Spaniards can become true matadors,'' everyone informs him). Say's text renders Billy's complex story with simplicity and grace, presenting Billy as an endearing, determined hero; Say's watercolors are luminous, filled with harmonious detail. The first several pages of the book are reproduced in sepia tones, but when Billy attends his first bullfight, the pictures burst into full color--an arresting touch that vividly underscores the bullfight's profound impact on Billy's imagination. Ages 7-13. (Oct.)
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