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Thursday, August 29, 2013

Gene Yang's two-book set on the Boxer Rebellion _Boxers _ and _Saints_ is excellent.

Yang, Gene Luen (2013) Boxers and Saints  New York:  First Second



Woo hoo!  I have been waiting for these two books for a long time.  Boxers and its companion book, Saints are amazing.  Both are amazing intertwined stories that tell stories about two people on opposites sides of the Boxer conflict. 

Boxers tells the story of Little Bao, who has watched in anger time and time again as soldiers, empowered by foreign missionaries, have stolen from and harmed members of the local villages as they despoil the countryside.  Little Bao discovers that he can channel the power of a forgotten ancestor, the first emperor of China.  Soon Bao surrounds himself with trustworthy friends and others who have lost loved ones to the military bullying.  Bao trains his followers to protect the weak, to be kind to women, widows, and children, and to obey a set of moral principles.  Unfortunately, the first emperor keeps coming to Bao in dreams and encouraging him to go on the offensive, to attack the foreigners and the Christians, and to take back his country. 


                       
At the same time, in Saints, Four-Girl has displeased her father and is cruelly kicked out of the home she has been growing up in.  She eventually finds refuge in the house of a missionary who takes care of her and educates her.  As Fourth-Girl learns more about the Catholic church, she begins to have dreams/visitations from Joan of Arc who tells her how to lead a holy crusade. 

These two stories are, of course, on a collision course and the conclusion is already known to anyone who really understands the futility of war. 

The colorful art is gorgeous, the chance to learn something about the Boxer rebellion is exciting, and the characters are such that most readers will find themselves rooting for both sides.  If you teach middle school or high school history or English, you should check this one out.  ,




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