AWESOME ASIAN AMERICANS: 20 STARS WHO MADE AMERICA AMAZING
By Phil Amara and Oliver Chin, illustrated by Juan Calle (San Francisco: Immedium, 2020, 128 pp., $17.95, paperback)
Here’s a book describing 20 Asian Americans who became trailblazers, paving the way for all Asians in our country in diverse fields. “Not all are household names. Some have been almost lost to memory, excluded from public acknowledgement or history textbooks.”
The late Tyrus Wong, artist
The late Sono Osato, dancer
The late Dr. Sammy Lee, diver and doctor
The late Yuri Kochiyama, activist
The late Sen. Daniel K. Inouye, soldier and statesman
The late Victoria Manalo Draves, diver
The late Bruce Lee, martial artist and actor
The late Flossie Wong-Staal, biologist and virologist
Steven Chu, Nobel Prize-winning physicist and professor
Shahid Khan, engineer and CEO
Helen Zia, author and activist
Dolly Gee, federal judge
Dr. Jane Luu, astronomer
Satya Nadella, technologist and CEO
Lea Salonga, singer
Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, wrestler and actor
David Chang, chef and restaurateur
Mindy Kaling, writer, actress and producer
Chrissy Teigen, model and entrepreneur
Jeremy Lin, basketball player
I love the title, and the illustrations are good, too. “Awesome Asian Americans” is emerging at a time where our country is facing challenges.
The book is geared to a middle school reading level with many younger children being able to enjoy these inspiring stories.
If you’re like me, you probably shared books with your children at bedtime and have precious memories of their childhood. It’s time for precious memories again.
Enjoy reading it. I did, and I hope you will too.
Tyrus Wong — I did not know that the classic Disney film, “Bambi,” was the creation of a Chinese artist. Wong immigrated to the U.S. at age 9, became an artist in junior high, and supported himself as a painter and waiter. He first worked for Disney earning $22.50 a week. Afterward, he worked for Warner Brothers for more than 25 years. The Disney Family Museum honored him with a lifetime retrospective in 2013.
Daniel Inouye — I remember Daniel Inouye as a senator from Hawai‘i who was a wounded soldier. He was the first well-known U.S. Asian, and appeared in the Senate Watergate hearings. He was posthumously awarded the Medal of Freedom by President Barack Obama in 2013.
Bruce Lee — Is he the best-known martial artist? I guess so. He died young, and was irreplaceable. With “Enter the Dragon,” Lee became one of the most popular actors in the world.
Helen Zia — “Growing up when many saw Asian Americans as foreigners, Helen felt out of place. Her dad insisted that ‘the proper place for an unmarried daughter is at home with her parents.’” Princeton University offered her a full scholarship. She took it. Next, she went to Tufts University School of Medicine. Then she became an autoworker, an investigative journalist, editor of two magazines and a book editor.
Jeremy Lin — The first Asian American to become an NBA champion, Lin is from California. Following injuries, he recently played in China. This year he pledged up to $1 million dollars to charity. We will look forward to his return once our current health problems subside, when they do, if they do. Heaven help us.