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

The Khan's Daughter: A Mongolian Folktale

Illustrated by: Jean Tseng
Age Level: 6-9

In this fluid retelling of a Mongolian folktale, a simple shepherd named Mongke must pass three tests in order to marry the Khan’s beautiful daughter – not the least of which is the girl herself who is particularly taxing. Handsome watercolors evoke the setting and the difficulty of the challenges that Mongke must face.

The Man Who Tricked a Ghost

Illustrated by: Ksadore Seltzer
Age Level: 6-9

On his way home, Sung meets a menacing ghost. Using his wit, however, Sung manages to outsmart the ghost and get the better of him. This traditional tale is told in a lively narrative with dramatic, full-color illustrations.

The Tiger's Apprentice: Book One

Age Level: 9-12

Tom is his Chinese grandmother's somewhat reluctant apprentice in magical arts, but after she dies while defending a mysterious coral rose from evil foes, the eighth grader finds himself enmeshed in a dangerous world where Chinese myth is a reality.

When the Circus Came to Town

Illustrated by: Seuling Wang
Age Level: 9-12

After being badly scarred by smallpox, Ursula isolates herself in the family stagecoach stop in Whistle, Montana. An unlikely friendship with a cook at the station brings the old Ursula back as she leads the preparations for Chinese New Year in the small town, which is even more isolated than usual by a blizzard. This riveting book explores difficult themes in an accessible way.