Paul Yee

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Paul Yee



Published books

TitleExtended titleYear of Publication
Inalienable RiceInalienable Rice-A Chinese & Japanese Canadian Anthology,1973
Tales From Gold MountainTales From Gold Mountain-Stories of the Chinese in the New World1989 1990
Ghost Train1996

A Little Bit About Paul Yee

Paul Yee’s余兆昌grandfather and father were from Guangdong province and both worked in Canada. Yee’s mother arrived in Canada in 1950, and Paul Yee was born in a small town in the prairies where they were the only Chinese family. However, Paul was soon taken to Vancouver, where he was raised amidst its thriving Chinese community. Paul grew up speaking Cantonese but studied Putonghua at university, where he received two university degrees in history. Paul first visited China in the summer of 1976, for a six-week tour, and he has returned for several visits since then. Paul writes mostly for young readers, but has also written adult non-fiction and a play (“Jade in the Coal, 金山惊魂”), 2010, which involved actors from the Guangdong Cantonese Opera Academy First Troupe广东粤剧院一团.

Born in Spalding Saskatchewan, Canada and grew up in Chinatown in Vancouver British Columbia, Canada.

Attended Lord Strathcona Elementary School, Britannia Secondary School and attended Cantonese language school as a child but studied Mandarin at university.

Has limited reading, writing and speaking ability in Cantonese.

Graduated from University of British Columbia with Bachelor's (1978) and Master's Degrees in Canadian History.

Member of Writers Union of Canada (TWUC), Canadian Society of Children's Authors, Illustrators and Performers ( CANSCAIP)

Worked as archivist at City of Vancouver Archives (1979-1987) and at Archives of Ontario (1988-1991).

Has lived in Toronto, Ontario since 1988.

The dog's name in Baxter, and he is a Wheaten Terrier

Past hobbies: swimming, jogging, 'taiko (Japanese drumming).

One FAQ Answered Here...

Why are my books about Chinese people? This is a question many people ask.

1. They're the people I know best. I grew up in a Chinatown. I'm familiar with the language, history, and culture. 2. They're the people I care about. Some of the characters in my books are drawn from my own family or the community. 3. They're the people about whom I'm most curious. This means I enjoy the research I do.

The more I learn about Chinese people, whether they live in North America, China or elsewhere in the world, the more I learn about experiences that affect me. I say this because people see I am Chinese right away, no matter where I am. Often, they make assumptions about me. For example:

"He doesn't speak English." "He doesn't speak Chinese." "He's an immigrant." "He know a lot about Chinese food." "He's going to complain about racism."

4. When I was a child, growing up in the 1960s, there were no books about my world--the world of immigrants, racial minorities, and different histories. I had to learn about these things much later in life. 5. My books mirror images of Chinese people back to themselves. Such books can reassure those in North American that it is valid to be different from the "mainstream." As well, the books let Chinese in North America see themselves, and each other, from new and different angles.

If you want to find what other people have written about Paul Yee, try these articles:

David, Marie C. "A Backward Way of Thanking People: Paul Yee on his Historical Fiction," Canadian Children's Literature, volume 22:3, Issue 83.

Jenkinson, Dave. "Paul Yee," Emergency Librarian, Volume 22:5 (May - June 1995) pp. 61-64

In 1991 School Services of Canada produced a 15-minute video on Paul Yee as part of its MEET THE AUTHOR series.


'Picture books:

   Teach Me to Fly, Skyfighter and Other Stories (1983)
   Roses Sing on New Snow (1991)
   Ghost Train (1996)
   The Boy in the Attic (1998)
   Jade Necklace (2002)
   A Song for Ba (2004)
   "The Lost Spike" (short story) (2004)
   Bamboo (2005)
   Shu-Li and Tamara (2008)
   Shu-Li and Diego (2009)

Middle grade & young adult:

   The Curses of Third Uncle (1986)
   Breakaway (1994)
   Struggle and Hope: the Chinese in Canada (1996)
   Fly Away (short story) (2001)
   Dead Man's Gold and Other Stories (2002)
   Bone Collector's Son (2003)
   What Happened This Summer (2006)
   Learning to Fly (2008)
   Blood and Iron (2010)
   Tales from Gold Mountain (2011)
   The Secret Keepers (2011)
   Money Boy (2011)


   If Walls Could Talk (2003)
   Chinatown (2005)
   Saltwater City: an Illustrated History of the Chinese in Vancouver (2006)
   Arrivals (a poem) (2011)
   Jade in the Coal (a play) (2011)

Awards & Honors

   1983: Canadian Children’s Book Centre Our Choice Selection for Teach Me to Fly, Skyfighter and Other Stories
   1989: City of Vancouver Book Award for Saltwater City
   1990: Sheila Egoff Children’s Prize (Winner) for Tales from Gold Mountain[18]
   1990: Notable Children’s Book–Social Studies for Tales from Gold Mountain
   1992: Ruth Schwartz Children's Literature Award for Roses Sing on New Snow
   1994: YALSA Best Book for Young Adults: Breakaway
   2006: Alcuin Society Awards for Excellence in Book Design in Canada–Prose Non-fiction Illustrated category for Saltwater City
   2012: Vicky Metcalf Award for Children’s Literature[19]

For Ghost Train:

   1996 Governor General's Literary Award for Children's Literature (Text)
   1997 Ruth Schwartz Children's Book Award (Picture Books)
   1998 Prix Enfantasie (Swiztzerland)(Winner; for French language version: Le train fantôme)
   1997 Amelia Frances Howard-Gibbon Illustrator’s Award

For Dead Man’s Gold:

   2003: New York Public Library Best Books for the Teen Age
   2003: Booklist Top Ten Historical Fiction Books of the Year
   2002: Honor Book, Kiriyama Prize, 2002 (books about Pacific Rim nations)[20]


   "The Stellar Book Award :: Paul Yee". Retrieved 2010-01-30.
   "interviews | Paul Yee". papertigers. Retrieved 2010-01-30.
   Yee, Paul. Blood and Iron: Building the Railway. Toronto: Scholastic Canada, 2010. Print.
   Yee, Paul, and Simon Ng. Tales from Gold Mountain: Stories of the Chinese in the New World. New York: Macmillan, 1989.
   Yee, Paul. "Author Interview with Paul Yee." Read Is The New Black. 11 Oct 2011. Web. 10 Mar 2014.
   Ouzounian, Richard (April 23, 2001). "Gifted creative team rides artful Ghost Train". Toronto Star. p. C.05. Retrieved 30 January 2010.
   Walker, Susan (April 16, 2001). "Forgotten heroes ; New play, opera tell the story of the Chinese workers who built Canada's national railway". Toronto Star. p. E.01. Retrieved 30 January 2010.
   "Jade in the Coal debuts at the UBC Frederic Wood Theatre." Straight. 24 Nov 2010. Web. 10 Mar 2014.
   Yee, Paul. Money Boy. Toronto: Groundwood Books/House of Anansi Press, 2011.
   "Comic grosses out Saturday Night's Dunn". Toronto Star. May 8, 1990. p. E.2. Retrieved 30 January 2010.