Flash Review: Paper Son by Julie Leung, illustrated by Chris Sasaki

By Maureen, 17 October 2022

Paper Son (ages 5+) is an atmospheric, lyrical and gorgeously illustrated non-fiction picture book about the journey of a little Chinese boy to the USA, the Gold Mountain of many immigrant dreams in the early part of the 1900s. To fulfil the American immigration requirements at the time, the boy must assume an alternative, fictitious identity, becoming a zi jai or “paper son.” After an initial hiccup at the border, the boy is ultimately reunited with his father in their new homeland. Christened Tyrus by his teachers, the boy’s new life begins…but how does it end? The grim realities of immigrant life – both what is lost and what is gained – are lightly touched upon, but at the heart of the story is Tyrus’ unremitting love for, and belief in, his own form and style of art, and how this love carried him through to the end of his days. A poignant and heartwarming introduction for younger readers to the topics of Chinese immigration and resilience.

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