June 14, 1948 |
San Francisco, California, USA
|Education||Ph.D., English literature|
|Alma mater||UC-Santa Cruz, SUNY-Buffalo|
|Genres||Historical fiction, speculative fiction, autobiography|
|Notable award(s)||Boston Globe–Horn Book Award
Laura Ingalls Wilder Medal
Laurence Michael Yep (Chinese: 葉祥添; pinyin: Yè Xiángtiān; born June 14, 1948) is a prolific Chinese-American writer, best known for children's books. In 2005 he received the biennial Laura Ingalls Wilder Medal for his career contribution to American children's literature.
Yep was born in San Francisco, California to Yep Gim Lew (Thomas) and Franche. His older brother, Thomas named him after studying a particular saint in a multicultural neighborhood that consisted of mostly African Americans. Growing up, he often felt torn between U.S. and Chinese culture, and expressed this in many of his books. A great deal of his work involves characters feeling alienated or not fitting into their surroundings and environment, something Yep has struggled with since childhood. Most of his life, he has had the feeling of being out of place, whether because he is the non athlete in his athletic family or because he is Chinese and once lived in Chinatown but does not speak the language. As it says in his autobiography, "I was too American to fit into Chinatown, and too Chinese to fit in anywhere else." As a boy, Yep attended a bilingual school in Chinatown. Just like Casey Young, a character in Child of the Owl, Yep was placed in the lower-level Chinese class where he was able to pass without learning how to speak the language. He later entered a Catholic high school in San Francisco where he continued his interest in chemistry and became equally intrigued with writing. His first writing was done in high school, for a science fiction magazine. His teacher, a priest, told him and a couple of his friends that to get an A, they had to get a piece of writing accepted by a magazine, and that's when he started to realize that a career in writing was meant to be.
While working in his family's store, he "learned early on how to observe and listen to people, how to relate to others. It was good training for a writer." However, as a child, he thought of himself as a scientist and expected to become a chemist. "Like my father, I was fascinated by machines." His decision to become a writer did not come until he entered college at Marquette.
At Marquette, he met and became friends with the literary magazine editor, Joanne Ryder. She introduced him to children's literature and later asked him to write a book for children while she was working at Harper & Row. The result was his first science fiction novel, Sweetwater, published by Harper & Row in 1973. According to Yep, his relationship with Joanne began as friends and progressed into love (Yep, 1991). Yep and Ryder are married and live in Pacific Grove, California.
Yep's most notable work is the Golden Mountain Chronicles, documenting the fictional Young family from 1849 in China to 1995 in America. Two of the series are Newbery Honor Books, or runners-up for the annual Newbery Medal: Dragonwings (Harper & Row, 1975) and Dragon's Gate (HarperCollins, 1993). Dragonwings won the Phoenix Award from the Children's Literature Association in 1995, recognizing the best children's book published twenty years earlier that did not win a major award. It has been adapted as a play under its original title. Another of the Chronicles, Child of the Owl won the Boston Globe-Horn Book Award for children's fiction in 1977. (The Rainbow People, Yep's collection of short stories based on Chinese folktales and legends, was a Horn Book runner-up in 1989.)
Yep wrote two other notable series, Chinatown Mysteries and Dragon (1982 to 1992). The latter is an adaptation of Chinese mythology as four fantasy novels.
One of Yep's recurring topics is people who feel alone and feel they do not belong in their surroundings, which are common feelings among young readers. Many of his characters, through their journeys, are able to find who they are and where they belong.
In 2005 the professional children's librarians awarded Yep the biennial Laura Ingalls Wilder Medal, which recognizes a living author or illustrator whose books, published in the United States, have made "a substantial and lasting contribution to literature for children". The committee noted that "Yep explores the dilemma of the cultural outsider" with "attention to the complexity and conflict within and across cultures" and it cited four works in particular: Dragonwings, The Rainbow People, The Khan's Daughter, and the autobiographical The Lost Garden.
- Golden Mountain Chronicles
As of 2011 there are ten published chronicles spanning 1835 to the present. Here they are ordered by the fictional history and the year of the narrative follows the title; none of the titles includes a date.
- The Serpent's Children, set in 1849 (1984)
- Mountain Light, 1855 (1985)
- Dragon's Gate, 1867 (1993)
- The Traitor, 1885 (2003)
- Dragonwings, 1903 (1975)
- Dragon Road, 1939 (2007); originally The Red Warrior
- Child of the Owl, 1960 (1977)
- Sea Glass, 1970 (1979)
- Thief of Hearts, 1995 (1995)
- Dragons of Silk, 1835-2011 (2011)
- Chinatown Mysteries
- The Case of the Goblin Pearls
- The Case of the Lion Dance
- The Case of the Firecrackers
- City trilogy
- City of Fire
- City of Ice
- City of Death
- The Tiger's Apprentice
- The Tiger's Apprentice: Book One
- Tiger's Blood: Book Two
- Tiger Magic: Book Three
- Ribbons (untitled group of books)
- The Cook's Family
- The Amah
- Later, Gator (untitled group of books)
- Later, Gator
- Cockroach Cooties
- Skunk Scout
- American Dragons: Twenty-five Asian American Voices (editor)
- The Lost Garden (autobiography, part of the In my own Words series)
- Picture books
- The Magic Paintbrush
- The Dragon Prince: A Chinese Beauty and the Beast Tale
- The Butterfly Boy
- The Shell Woman and the King: a Chinese folktale
- The Khan's Daughter: a Mongolian folktale
- When the Circus Came to Town
- The Ghost Fox
- The Boy Who Swallowed Snakes
- The Man who Tricked a Ghost
- Other books
- Tongues of Jade
- The Rainbow People
- The Star Fisher
- Dream Soul (sequel to The Star Fisher)
- Hiroshima: A Novella
- The Earth Dragon Awakes: the San Francisco Earthquake of 1906
- Lady of Ch'iao Kuo: Warrior of the South (part of The Royal Diaries series)
- The Journal of Wong Ming-Chung: A Chinese Miner (part of the I Am America series)
- Spring Pearl: The Last Flower (part of the Girls of Many Lands series)
- The Imp that Ate My Homework
- Kind Hearts and Gentle Monsters
- The Mark Twain Murders
- The Tom Sawyer Fires
- Shadow Lord (a Star Trek novel)
- Bravo, Mia!
- Monster Makers, Inc.
- Designs by Isabelle
- To the Stars, Isabelle
- The Age of Wonders
- Pay the Chinaman (one-act)
- Fairy Bones (one-act)
- "Laura Ingalls Wilder Award, Past winners". Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC). American Library Association (ALA).
"About the Laura Ingalls Wilder Award". ALSC. ALA. Retrieved 2013-06-10.
- "Laura Ingalls Wilder Award Winner, 2005". ALSC. ALA. 2005. Archived from the original on 2006-01-04. Retrieved 2013-06-10.
- Harper Collins, Laurence Yep Biography, accessed September 16, 2007
- "Phoenix Award Brochure 2012". Children's Literature Association. Retrieved 2013-03-02.
See also the current homepage, "Phoenix Award".
- Nguyen, Hanh (2008-10-09). "Cartoon Network Mentors 'Tiger's Apprentice'". Zap2it. Tribune Media Services. Retrieved 2008-12-24.
- Works by or about Laurence Yep in libraries (WorldCat catalog)
- Laurence Yep at the Internet Speculative Fiction Database
- The Dragon Lode: "Conversations with Yep and Soentpiet - Negotiation Between Cultures"