2.11.2019

Cover Reveal: 'Paper Son: The Inspiring Story of Tyrus Wong, Immigrant and Artist'

New picture book biography tells the story of the celebrated Chinese American artist.



Celebrated Chinese American artist and painter Tyrus Wong is the visionary best known for his influential work on the 1942 Disney feature film Bambi. From humble beginnings, immigrating to the United States from China -- with the Exclusion Act in full effect -- at 9 years old as a "paper son," Wong found his calling as an artist whose work would inspire a generation of American animators.

A new picture-book biography Paper Son: The Inspiring Story of Tyrus Wong, Immigrant and Artist, written by Julie Leung and illustrated by Chris Sasaki, tells the story of Wong's journey, capturing the life and work of a painter who came to this country with dreams and talent -- and who changed the world of animation forever.

"Before he became an artist named Tyrus Wong, he was a boy named Wong Geng Yeo. He traveled across a vast ocean from China to America with only a suitcase and a few papers. Not papers for drawing -- which he loved to do -- but immigration papers to start a new life. Once in America, Tyrus seized every opportunity to make art, eventually enrolling at an art institute in Los Angeles. Working as a janitor at night, his mop twirled like a paintbrush in his hands. Eventually, he was given the opportunity of a lifetime -- and using sparse brushstrokes and soft watercolors, Tyrus created the iconic backgrounds of Bambi."

Paper Son hits shelves on September 24 from Random House. Here's the gorgeous cover by Chris Sasaki:



Paper Son: The Inspiring Story of Tyrus Wong, Immigrant and Artist (Random House Children's Books)


Julie Leung is the author of the Mice of the Round Table series, including A Tail of Camelot, Voyage to Avalon, and most recently, Merlin's Last Quest. This is her first picture book.

Chris Sasaki is a former character designer and illustrator for Pixar Animation Studios, where he has designed characters for Monsters University and Inside Out. His work has been featured at Gallery Nucleus, on Cartoon Brew, in the New York Times, and in the Society of Illustrators annual.

Leung says she was inspired to share Tyrus Wong's story with young readers, having grown up herself with few available books about noteworthy figures -- especially artists -- from her community. She admits she only learned about Wong's extraordinary work after reading his obituary in the New York Times.

"He was one of the preeminent Chinese American artists of our time, and yet, I had never heard of him," Leung says. "Growing up the only child of immigrants, I had very few picture books available to me about the accomplishments of fellow Chinese Americans -- much less artists. I wanted to change that for future generations."

The author also sees her own family's experiences reflected in Wong's story. Leung's parents immigrated to the United States from a village just forty miles away from Taishan, where Wong and his father were from.

"In our families, I see the same resilience and ability to thrive in a new country that did not welcome them," Leung says. "Despite the lack of recognition throughout his career, Tyrus Wong always found a way to express himself through art. His story reminds us that immigrants, wanted or not, leave an essential mark on the masterpiece that is this nation."