In a wordless yet riveting work of social justice illustration reminiscent of Seuss’s The Lorax, Yang Yu-Chi tells a tale of hard work and exploitation that rings true for readers all across the world. Factory is the story of Mama Penguin, who assembles dolls for export at a massive factory at the South Pole. Paid too poorly even to afford the dolls she makes, her greatest pleasure is assembling dolls from discarded parts to give to her daughter. Every day she gets closer to the twenty-year retirement cutoff, for which the company has promised her good retirement pay and a ticket to a restful old age.
Yet a mere two weeks before her time is up, the factory owner shuts the place down and moves all operations abroad, where salaries are cheaper. Compensation is meager, protests are useless, and the only resource for many is to look for work in their old age, a bitter option only open to the lucky few.
The silent despair of Factory’s illustrated narrative intensifies when one learns that the story is true: the illustrator’s mother experienced just such a misfortune after decades of factory labor. Now, her son tells her story.