BookDragon Books for the Diverse Reader

The Five Chinese Brothers by Claire Huchet Bishop, illustrated by Kurt Wiese [in What Do I Read Next? Multicultural Literature]

Five Chinese Brothers Claire BishopFive Chinese brothers look exactly alike, but each has an extraordinary talent. When First Chinese Brother is unfairly sentenced to death, the other brothers each call on their special talents to save their brother and prove his innocence.

Published in 1938, this was one of the earliest children’s books to feature at least seemingly Asian-looking characters. Never mind the cringe here and there. In spite of the welcome multitudes of new titles that are, if nothing else, more accurate both graphically and culturally of the Asian and Asian American experience, this title somehow remains a children’s classic more than half a century later. Go figure … exotica still sells.

The 1990 Mahy/Tseng book, The Seven Chinese Brothers, is another, somewhat different variation of the same alleged Chinese folktale. Kathy Tucker and Grace Lin’s 2003 The Seven Chinese Sisters reclaim the sibling story to much greater success. Girl power all the way!

Review: “Asian American Titles,” What Do I Read Next? Multicultural Literature, Gale Research, 1997

Readers: Children

Published: 1938


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