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Book of the Month: Clara Wu Series

By Vincent Yee

Recommended grades 6-10

Across five books, author Vincent Yee tells an epic fantasy adventure designed for a young adult Asian American audience. The story begins with Book One: Clara Wu and the Portal Book, introducing readers to our cast of characters and their trustworthy Guardians. Clara Wu is our central protagonist. In just a few short weeks, she goes from a typical Chinese American teenager living in New York City to the Panda Empress Warrior in the realm of Azen, protected by her Guardian Panda. She is joined by Sung Kim, Yuka Satoh, and Daniel Nguyen These characters bring with them their own animal Guardians and their unique Asian identities, integrating elements from Korean, Japanese, and Vietnamese cultures as well.

Readers grow alongside these characters as they watch each individual learn to love their Asian identity, discover the power within themselves, and team up to defeat an ominous evil and save the world. This series is an essential step towards changing how Asians and Asian Americans are represented in the media, elevating characters with Asian backgrounds among the ranks of other fantasy heroes that Western culture knows and loves. This story aims at better Asian representation in which Asian characters not only exist, but are the heroes and driving forces behind the narrative. From young children, to teens, to even adults, this epic adventure has something for everyone.

Knowing how essential empowering representation was for Asian American youth, Vincent Yee worked swiftly and efficiently to get the story of Clara Wu into the hands of the public. In October of 2020, against the backdrop of the pandemic and the rising threats to the Asian American community, Vincent Yee wrote his 5-book series in 6 months – an act of love and empowerment for his community. Once the books were written, Yee set and met his goal of publishing them all in under a year. He has since become an award winning author at BookFest and appeared on The Kelly Clarkson Show to kick-off AAPI Heritage Month.

BranchOut!, a unique student-built and student-led multicultural volunteer program, invited Vincent Yee to be one of this year’s keynote speakers at the kick-off training event. He encouraged our student mentors: “Don’t just be leaders. Be superheroes.” Yee’s mission is to inspire Asian American students to see the potential in themselves to be change-makers, role-models, and heroes. The BranchOut! team came away from the training event feeling ready to make an impact in their own communities.

Curious to learn more? You can read a synopsis of the Clara Wu Books here, learn more about how Vincent Yee published 5 books in just 11 months here, or explore BranchOut! to learn about how to become your own hero.

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