When Genie “meets” new kid Quentin Sun for the first time in The Epic Crush of Genie Lo by F.C. Yee, it’s on her way to school and he’s getting mugged by six grown men. The next time she meets him is in her homeroom after he walks across the room on top of desks, gets in her face, and tells her, “You belong to me.” Later she finds him at her house making nice with her mother and then volunteering with her at Read-a-Thon at the local library. But nothing prepares Genie for the epic battle to the death Quentin has with an eight-foot-tall giant who has followed her from the library.
In the following excerpt from page 41 of the novel, Quentin tries to explain to Genie who he really is.
Quentin was still trying to cement his “look at me being serious” face. It took him a few seconds to realize I wasn’t flipping out over whoever he was.
“The Sun Wukong,” he said, scooping the air with his fingers. “Sun Wukong the Monkey King.”
“I said, I don’t know who that is.”
His jaw dropped. Thankfully his teeth were still normal-size.
“You’re Chinese and you don’t know me?” he sputtered. “That’s like an American child not knowing Batman!”
“You’re Chinese Batman?”
“No! I’m stronger than Batman, and more important, like—like. Tian na*, how do you not know who I am!?”
I don’t know why he expected me to recognize him.
*Tian na: good gracious; for goodness sake
Myth Makers, “I Am Batman.”
After reading the excerpt, ask students if they know anything about The Monkey King. After listening to the comments, tell students they will be diving into more about The Monkey King soon.
Have students create the three-column chart below. Students will brainstorm to complete the chart. Teachers will model a few examples with the class and then allow students to continue their lists independently. Students will list as many school activities as possible. Teachers may expand activities to include activities students participate in outside of school. In the second column, students will create a random list of animals. In the third column, students will list a few attributes for the animal listed in the second column.
Patient, slow, lazy, chill
Adventurous, quick, brave
Spontaneous, jittery, cautious
After several minutes, have students bring their listing to a close. Have students read information about The Monkey King. Teachers can provide the link, print out copies, or have students follow along as the teacher reads the article. Teachers can also have different groups or individuals read one portion of the article. For example, one group can read the section titled “Etymology” while another group reads “Attributes” or “Mythology.”
After reading the article, students will return to the list to combine and create their own superhero/Batman and version of The Monkey King. For example, a student may choose The Flying Squirrel King, aka, Chess Club Guy or Ms. Mariachi, the Mariposa Queen. Once students have mixed their activity and animal, students will then pull from the attributes list to write and create the mythology/explanation of their creation. Students can use the article as their mentor text for writing their mythology/explanation.
Holy Bat Extensions
Bat-etymology: If students did not attempt etymology in their first writing, have students give their hero/king a Sun Wukong type name and explain its meaning. Students can go to a site like this one for guidance and examples.
Bat Art: Have students create a visual for their myth/hero creation.
Bat Scene: Students can write a scene where their myth/hero is introduced. Students can use the excerpt as a mentor text.
Michael M. Guevara, recipient of a 2019 Book Love Foundation Grant, spends his days advocating for choice reading and authentic literacy instruction. An Academic Trainer in a large urban high school in San Antonio, Texas, Michael works with teachers on improving their literacy instruction and uses choice reading to help students achieve academic success. A former K-12 ELAR coordinator, Michael has served as president of The Texas Council of Teachers of English Language Arts and an NCTE committee chair. He recently served on the Texas state standards revision committee that developed new literacy standards adopted by Texas in 2017. His workshops with teachers focus on mentor texts and authentic student writing from their choice reading. Michael is working on a professional development book for literacy educators and currently has agents reading the manuscript of his young adult novel The Closest Thing to a Normal Life.