Laurence Yep

Laurence Yep grew up in an African-American neighborhood in San Francisco in the 1950s. His father worked long hours in their corner grocery store, often with the help of Laurence and his brother. Laurence bussed to a bilingual Jesuit school in Chinatown, even though his family did not speak Chinese at home. Growing up, Yep always felt that he was a cultural outsider- a theme and perspective that would appear throughout his books.

Laurence Yep's writing career started early. At age 18 he published his first story in a science fiction magazine. At age 23 he published his first novel. While his college classmates were going to parties and lying out in the sun, Laurence Yep was either typing in his room or doing research in the library. By age 28, Yep had not only written a long Ph.D. dissertation on William Faulkner, he had also won a prestigious Newbery Honor Award. That award impacted the course of his career, allowing him to quit his itinerant teaching jobs to focus on writing.

As a testament to his popularity and longevity as a writer, Laurence Yep won a second Newbery Honor Award eighteen years later in 1994. Yep's greatest challenge may be that he has more ideas than time. Whether it's a character on the bus, pelicans on the beach, or an old history book at the library, Laurence Yep finds inspiration all around him- and then his imagination does the rest.

Books by This Author

Cockroach Cooties

Age Level: Middle Grade

Teddy discovers he has protective instincts when he sees his younger brother, Bobby, being bullied. How Teddy overcomes the bully without fists, acquires a pet cockroach named Hercules, and starts a new friendship creates a gently humorous story. Teddy and Bobby were introduced in Later, Gator (Hyperion, 1997).

Dream Soul

Age Level: Middle Grade

The Lee family, first introduced in Star Fisher (HarperCollins, 1997), is Chinese. Living in Clarksburg, West Virginia, in 1927, they stand out in the community. Joan Lee and her siblings want to fit in and celebrate a non-Chinese holiday, Christmas. The children's parents agree, but only if the children behave according to the parents high standards. Understanding and friendship gradually emerge in this touching novel based on the experiences of the author's mother.

Golden Mountain Chronicles #1: The Serpent's Children

Girl in front of father
Age Level: Middle Grade

When villagers call Cassia and her brother, Foxfire, "the serpent's children," they mean it as an insult. But to Cassia it is an honor, for legend says that once a serpent sets her mind on something, she never gives up. And in a time when famine, drought, and violence mark her family's life, Cassia has nothing less than survival to fight for. Their father is a revolutionary, determined to free China from invaders. Foxfire, certain he'll find a mountain of gold, flees to a faraway land.

Golden Mountain Chronicles #2: Mountain Light

Young man and young woman standing together
Age Level: Middle Grade

Their families fought one another for generations, maintaining an age-old blood feud. But that changed when they found themselves on the same side of a new struggle against the tyrannical Manchu dynasty. By devoting himself fully to the revolution, Squeaky Lau wins Cassia's trust — and her heart. But winning Cassia's love is not enough. Now Squeaky must prove his worth as a man — to Cassia, to his villa village, and most importantly, to himself.

Golden Mountain Chronicles #3: Dragon's Gate

Worker with shovel
Age Level: Middle Grade

In 1867, Otter travels from Three Willows Village in China to California — the Land of the Golden Mountain. There he will join his father and uncle. In spite of the presence of family, Otter is a stranger among the other Chinese in this new land. And where he expected to see a land of goldfields, he sees only vast, cold whiteness. But Otter's dream is to learn all he can, take the technology back to the Middle Kingdom, and free China from the Manchu invaders.

Golden Mountain Chronicles #4: The Traitor

Young man with friend
Age Level: Middle Grade

In the Wyoming territory in 1885, life is tough, especially for Michael Purdy. An outcast in the small town of Rock Springs, he's either bullied and bloodied, or ignored. Michael feels he might as well be a ghost in this rough coal-mining town. But life is even harder for Joseph Young, a Chinese American boy and Michael's secret ally. Despised by the white miners, the Chinese work in dangerous conditions, struggling against poverty and racism.

Golden Mountain Chronicles #5: Dragonwings

Son and father fly a kite together
Age Level: Middle Grade

Moon Shadow is only eight years old when he sails from China to join his father in San Francisco's Chinatown in the early 1900s. Readers travel through history, gaining insight about being Chinese in America in this thoroughly researched, riveting novel. Written for young adolescents, this Newbery Honor winner is part of the Golden Mountain Chronicles.

Golden Mountain Chronicles #6: Dragon Road

Golden Mountain Chronicles #6: Dragon Road
Age Level: Middle Grade

Best friends Cal and Barney are down and out in Chinatown. In the America of 1939, they are trapped by invisible barriers created by racial prejudice. With no jobs and no real homes, it's only their wizardry with a basketball that's let them survive this long. That same skill suddenly flings a door open to fame and fortune when a professional basketball team, the Dragons, invites them to join the team.