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Laurence Yep is a children's and young adult fiction writer. He is known as the author of the Dragon fantasy tetralogy and The Golden Mountain Chronicles. Yep is the author of one The Royal Diaries book and one book in the My Name Is America series.
Yep was born in San Francisco 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. He attended Marquette University and graduated from the University of California, Santa Cruz. He earned a Ph.D in English at the State University of New York at Buffalo.
Laurence Yep's most notable collection of works 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 won the Carter G. Woodson Book Award in 1976, and 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.
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.
- The Golden Mountain Chronicles
- 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)
- Dragon (fantasy series)
- Dragon of the Lost Sea
- Dragon Steel
- Dragon Cauldron
- Dragon War