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Shining Star: The Anna May Wong Story

Last updated Thursday, May 20, 2010

Author: Paula Yoo
Illustrator: Lin Wang
Date of Publication: 2009
ISBN: 1600602592
Grade Level: 4th    (GLCs: Click here for grade level guidelines.)
Date(s) Used: Jun. 2010

Synopsis: Although Wong's days were filled with backbreaking work as she helped in her family's San Francisco Chinese laundry, her daydreams were replete with visions of life as a film star. Anna saw every movie she could, and eventually, despite her parents' opposition, she became a movie extra. As a young woman in the 1920s, beautiful and unusually tall, she was given supporting roles, but, distressed by the stereotypical characters Chinese actors were forced to portray, she decided to pursue her career in Europe. When she returned to Hollywood in 1935, she discovered that nothing had changed. After a visit to China, Wong returned to the U.S. with a renewed determination to eliminate the old Asian stereotypes that had become film standards. Her efforts yielded her some wonderful roles and helped open doors for other Asian-American actors. This is an excellent introduction to a one-time celeb little known to today's children. Readers will be entranced by the actress's rags-to-riches story, and her efforts at confronting racial discrimination will resonate with all ethnic minorities. School Library Journal review.

Note to readers:
•  Read Author's Note during preptime.
•  More info on Anna May Wong: From http://planetesme.blogspot.com/

Discussion topics for before reading:
•  Where do you think her family is from?
•  What king of star do you think the title is talking about?

Discussion topics for during/after reading:
•  Vocab: Toiling
•  How do you think they did laundry before washing machines and electric irons?
•  What are your chores at home?
•  Do you help your parents with their work?
•  What do you like to do to escape everyday chores?
•  Vocab: Malice, heroine
•  Why did she hate going to school?
•  Do you know where Flower Street is?
•  Have you ever seen a movie being filmed?
•  Is she being treated better by the movie people than by the kids at school?

Craft ideas:
•  Draw your own movie posters with you as the star. What kind of movie would that be? Or with you as the director.
•  Create your own star or hand print & footprint like the landmarks in Hollywood. The below link is to a photo of the Hollywood Walk of Fame star for Anna Ma Wong, located on the East side of the 1700 block of Vine Street, on Hollywood Blvd.

Special activities:
•  Have them act out different emotions: Scared. Surprised. Angry.
•  Why do you think that a white man was playing a Chinese character?
•  Why do you think she was unhappy with the make-up they put on him?
•  Have you ever been in a situation where you felt you were being treated unfairly or limited because of what people thought you could and couldn't do?

*Note: These craft ideas are just suggestions. You can use them, but you don't have to use them. You can expand upon them, or add your own twist. Remember, though, that the focus of your time should not be on the development and execution of a craft; the focus should be on the read-aloud and the enjoyment of the book!