Born in 1905, Anna May Wong spent her childhood working in her family’s laundry in Los Angeles’s Chinatown. Anna May struggled to pursue an acting career in Hollywood in the 1930s. There were very few roles for Asian Americans, and many were demeaning and stereotypical. Finally, after years of unfulfilling roles, Anna May began crusading for more meaningful opportunities for herself and other Asian American actors and refused to play stereotypical roles. As the first Chinese American movie star, she took a stand against racial discrimination in the film industry and was a pioneer of the cinema. Ages 6–11.
About The Author
Paula Yoo is an author and screenwriter whose children’s books for Lee & Low include Sixteen Years in Sixteen Seconds, Shining Star, and several titles in the Confetti Kids series. Her titles have been recognized by the International Reading Association, the Texas Bluebonnet Award Masterlist, and Lee & Low’s New Voices Award. She and her husband live in Los Angeles, California, where she works in television.
Read Aloud Tips
- Introduce the author with her biography and recognizing the awards she has won for her work.
- Describe the setting for this book, 1930s Los Angeles, noting that most working actors and artists were white.
- Show students videos of Anna May Wong.
- Have students reflect on why diversity in the arts is important. Use debate centers.
“This is an excellent introduction to a one-time celeb little known to today’s children. Yoo explains Wong’s circumstances with clarity and portrays her hardships and triumphs in concise, easy-to-follow prose. Lin Wang’s acrylic and watercolor illustrations are the perfect complement to the well-written text, precise in their realistic detail and particularly adept in their portrayal of both facial expressions and textures.” – School Library Journal