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El Chino

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A true story of Billy Wong, the first Chinese bullfighter.


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A true story of Billy Wong, the first Chinese bullfighter.

30 review for El Chino

  1. 4 out of 5

    Abigail

    In this picture-book biography Allen Say explores the life story of Bong Way Wong, a Chinese-American man raised in Arizona and known to his siblings as "Billy." A natural athlete, Billy had hoped to become a great basketball player, only to find that he was barred by his lack of height from playing in college. Eventually settling for a more conventional path, he studied engineering and found a 'safe' job as a highway engineer. But on his very first vacation, a trip to Spain, Billy discovered bu In this picture-book biography Allen Say explores the life story of Bong Way Wong, a Chinese-American man raised in Arizona and known to his siblings as "Billy." A natural athlete, Billy had hoped to become a great basketball player, only to find that he was barred by his lack of height from playing in college. Eventually settling for a more conventional path, he studied engineering and found a 'safe' job as a highway engineer. But on his very first vacation, a trip to Spain, Billy discovered bullfighting, and realized that this was what he truly wanted to do. But how could a man of Chinese ancestry become a matador, and would the Spaniards ever accept him...? Although a great fan of Allen Say, whose many wonderful picture-books never fail to deliver both engaging stories and beautiful artwork, I did have some mixed feelings about El Chino. On the one hand, I appreciated the fact that Billy Wong persevered in following his dream, never letting the obstacles of national and racial background stand in his way. His father had always said he could be whatever he wanted, and he lived out that maxim. I also appreciated the illustrations, which were just lovely, capturing a sense of light and of motion in each scene. On the other hand, as someone who abhors blood sports - although not a vegetarian, and therefore not opposed to either animal husbandry or subsistence hunting, I think the idea of killing for entertainment is morally indefensible - I had trouble sympathizing with the idea that becoming a matador was a desirable thing, regardless of who so desired. Recommended primarily to admirers of Allen Say's artwork, and to those looking for biographies of Chinese-American trailblazers, with the proviso that the should be aware of the animal welfare issues raised (but unresolved) within the story.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Billy Noecker

    The tale of the first ever Chinese born bullfighter. Billy, a native of Canton, China, believes that he become anything he wants in America. Unfortunately, he is just too small to do well in American sports. On a trip to Spain, he finds himself enamored with bullfighting sets his sites on being a bullfighter. Of course, many believed you could only be a true matador if you were Spanish, but Billy doesn't believe this and sets himself into achieving his goal.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Ezekiel

    I'm conflicted about this book. On the one hand I'm really excited to get a book with a Chinese-American protagonist. On the other, it glorifies bull-fighting, which is a pretty screwed up thing. Anyone else's thoughts?

  4. 5 out of 5

    Shaeley Santiago

    American-born Bong Way "Billy" Wong visits Spain and decides to become a bull fighter. In spite of tradition that only Spaniards can become bull fighters, Billy successfully pursues his dream and becomes known as "El Chino," the Chinese. holiday #bookaday

  5. 4 out of 5

    Jim

    i'd have given this four stars if i thought there was anything positive about bull fighting.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Ben Truong

    El Chino is a children's picture book written and illustrated by Allen Say. It chronicles the story of a Chinese-American bullfighter – Bong Way "Billy" Wong. May, at least in my part of the world is Asian and Pacific Islander American Heritage Month, which I plan to read one children's book, particularly a biography, which pertains to the subject everyday this month. Therefore, I thought that this book would be apropos for today. The text is rather simplistic, straightforward, and informative. Sa El Chino is a children's picture book written and illustrated by Allen Say. It chronicles the story of a Chinese-American bullfighter – Bong Way "Billy" Wong. May, at least in my part of the world is Asian and Pacific Islander American Heritage Month, which I plan to read one children's book, particularly a biography, which pertains to the subject everyday this month. Therefore, I thought that this book would be apropos for today. The text is rather simplistic, straightforward, and informative. Say's text renders Billy's complex story with simplicity and grace, presenting Billy as an endearing, determined hero. Say's watercolors are luminous, filled with harmonious detail with sepia tones which bursts into full colors. The premise of the book is rather straightforward. As Billy grows up, his father tells him, over and over again, that in America one can be anything. This advice stands Billy in good stead as he faces one seemingly insurmountable obstacle after another on his triumphant way to the ring. Though bullfighting is hardly everyone's favorite sport, this cross-cultural story of perseverance is an unusual, authentic bit of history, told with simplicity and grace. All in all, El Chino is a somewhat well done biographical picture book about the perseverance of following one's dream. However, a note telling more about this unusual figure would have been enlightening and appreciated.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Becky B

    A picture book biography of Billy Wong, the first matador of Chinese descent. I really wish that there had been more information about Billy Wong in the back of the book. I want to know more! A fascinating picture book biography. I can safely say I've never read a biography of a matador before. The cover doesn't give a ton of clues as to what this is about, so I was quite surprised at where Billy's life went. May be a good choice if you're looking for a book about making predictions or Chinese A A picture book biography of Billy Wong, the first matador of Chinese descent. I really wish that there had been more information about Billy Wong in the back of the book. I want to know more! A fascinating picture book biography. I can safely say I've never read a biography of a matador before. The cover doesn't give a ton of clues as to what this is about, so I was quite surprised at where Billy's life went. May be a good choice if you're looking for a book about making predictions or Chinese Americans in sports.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Jennifer

    Say creates a story (I think based on real events because of the dedication) that is a different theme from his usual books (he usually concentrates on the Japanese-American immigrant experience). This book is about an American born/Chinese descent man who moves to Spain and decides to become a matador. This is a book about being dedicated towards your goals and not giving up on your dreams. Beautiful artwork, as always.

  9. 5 out of 5

    K8

    I read this book to my class every year. It is a story of perseverance, determination and very hard work against all odds. The bull fighting is a cultural issue being revised. But I focus on the willpower and the pursuit of a dream when I review the book with the children. That is the message with which I want to empower the class.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Stacie

    Another wonderful book by Allen Say. His illustrations are gorgeous. We can learn so much from these stories of immigrants.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Amanda Walz

    A story about fighting for your dreams.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Susan

    A great picture book about never giving up on your dreams! Fascinating, and makes me curious about the rest of the story...

  13. 4 out of 5

    Rachel

    Awesome story!

  14. 4 out of 5

    Julia

    I loved Allen Say's true story of the first Chinese bullfighter. The son of Chinese immigrants, Billy Wong grew up in Arizona. His father is a grocer who tells Billy "In America you can be anything you want to be". Not wanting to be a grocer like his father, Billy dreams of becoming a basketball player. When his height becomes an issue, Billy becomes an engineer like his brother. Billy goes to Spain on vacation and discovers his new dream is to become a bullfighter. He is told over and over agai I loved Allen Say's true story of the first Chinese bullfighter. The son of Chinese immigrants, Billy Wong grew up in Arizona. His father is a grocer who tells Billy "In America you can be anything you want to be". Not wanting to be a grocer like his father, Billy dreams of becoming a basketball player. When his height becomes an issue, Billy becomes an engineer like his brother. Billy goes to Spain on vacation and discovers his new dream is to become a bullfighter. He is told over and over again that only Spaniards can be real Matadors. Billy does not let his dream die and he becomes El Chino, the Chinese Matador. El Chino deals with overcoming stereotypes. Billy doesn't let the Spaniards squash his dream of becoming a Matador. This is also a book about pride. Billy is proud of his Chinese heritage. He high self esteem and hard work lead Billy to become the first Chinese matador. El Chino would be a great book to use in an author study. Allen Say has written several books about Asian immigrants in America. His books deal with cross-cultural experiences.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Laura

    This was an interesting story, one I had never heard before. I liked how the man in the story never gave up on his dreams. There were a couple of illustrations among the first several pages that I thought were absolutely amazing, I loved how Allen Say drew the people's faces. I would probably recommend. *Taken from my book reviews blog: http://reviewsatmse.blogspot.com/2009... This was an interesting story, one I had never heard before. I liked how the man in the story never gave up on his dreams. There were a couple of illustrations among the first several pages that I thought were absolutely amazing, I loved how Allen Say drew the people's faces. I would probably recommend. *Taken from my book reviews blog: http://reviewsatmse.blogspot.com/2009...

  16. 4 out of 5

    Courtney Sharpton

    I love this book because students see that even if they have to give up a dream another door will be opened. It also shows students that being proud of your heritage instead of ignoring and attempting to change it is a good thing. Love who you are and embrace what you are and someday you will get to where you are trying to go. I also love the way say structure some of the sentences in this book.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Julia

    I was surprised by this book. I expected it to be very historical as Allen Say's books tend to be. This book was about a man who believed that he could do anything, even though he doesn't achieve his first dream, he comes upon another one that he loves even more.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Ebony Hargett

    Great multicultural book with lessons on accepting your background and passions in life. I would use this book for grades 3-5. Also good for creating discussions on "what it means to follow your dreams and still know where you come from".

  19. 5 out of 5

    KarenMLISt

    Allen Say is a master storyteller with such lovely simplicity. This book is an inspiration and it may be because I'm a sucker for a good true story with a happy ending. Fabulous book to share with anyone but especially children who need to be reminded to hold on to their dreams!

  20. 5 out of 5

    Olivia

    I like this book because it tells u how the boy became to have faith in himself.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Hosea.victor

    I learned that you can be whatever you want to be even if you're Chinese and you want to be a spanish matador

  22. 5 out of 5

    S10_Abby Alley

    True story of Billy Wong, the first Chinese bull fighter. Appropriate for grades 2-6, depending on how it is used.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Angie

    Good biography of El Chino. I liked how the illustrations went from black and white to color once Billy found his purpose.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Theresa

    beautiful pictures, a good resource in showing kids how to live up to the impossible dreams, even if the dreams change over time because of circumstance, but endurance wins out.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Donna

    ElChino Love this true story about "Billy" bong way wong who became the very first Chinese bull fighter in spain.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Kathryn Joyce

    A Chinese bullfighters journey. I would use this book to help Chinese-American students relate and see familiar terms. It is an exciting plot that all students would enjoy.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Joyce Munzwandi

    This is a great book to help Chinese students to identify with someone from their own country who has sedttled in America.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Allison

    Wonderful story of Bill Wong, a Chinese-American bullfighter.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Mckinley

    Being what you want to be.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Sarah Beth

    Good for children, great for teaching.

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