Imp That Ate My Homework

Imp That Ate My Homework

by Laurence Yep, Benrei Huang

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Showdown in Chinatown!

Jim wants to be a normal American kid. The only problem: His grandfather is the meanest, ugliest man in Chinatown. Grandpop has no patience for his "native born, no brains" grandson, and Jim is not all that interested in hearing about old Chinese customs and superstitions.� But then a nasty green imp shows up, determined to settle an


Showdown in Chinatown!

Jim wants to be a normal American kid. The only problem: His grandfather is the meanest, ugliest man in Chinatown. Grandpop has no patience for his "native born, no brains" grandson, and Jim is not all that interested in hearing about old Chinese customs and superstitions.� But then a nasty green imp shows up, determined to settle an ancient family feud. The imp is making Jim's life miserable, and Grandpop seems to be the only one who can help.� Could Grandpop really be the reincarnation of an ancient Chinese warrior— the world's only hope against one mean gree imp?Two-time Newbery Honor author Laurence Yep interweaves fantasy, humor, and a celebration of family into this entertaining tale.

2000 Georgia Children's Book Award and 01-02 Land of Enchantment Book Award Masterlist (Gr. 3-6)Two-time Newbery Honor author Laurence Yep interweaves fantasy, humor, and a celebration of family into this entertaining tale.

Author Biography: Laurence Yep is the author of The Imp That Ate My Homework, about which Kirkus Reviews said, "Readers will not be able to put this light, funny fantasy down." He received Newbery Honors in 1975 for Dragonwings and in 1994 for Dragon's Gate. Mr. Yep lives in Pacific Grove, California.

Editorial Reviews

Children's Literature - Dr. Judy Rowen
Assigned to write an essay about his grandparents, Jim struggles because his grandfather is the meanest man in Chinatown. The morning the essay is due, Jim awakes to find a four-armed, green, furry imp chomping on the paper. The imp seems to have a score to settle with Jim's grandfather. Will Jim overcome his fear to enlist his grandfather's help against the pesky imp? Set in San Francisco, the city and the magic of Chinatown come alive in this inventive tale.
School Library Journal
Gr 3-5Jim's Grandpop is the meanest man in Chinatown so it is a challenge to describe him for a school essay. However, that problem seems insignificant when an imp, released from an ancient jar in China, starts to harass the boy and his parents. It starts a fire at the sweatshop where Jim's mother works and a panic in the butcher shop where his father works. The boy knows that his grandfather will be the next target. Strangely, the elderly man relishes the fight, hinting that he might be the reincarnation of the Chinese hero Chung Kuei. Although he is old and without magic, Grandpop is still a fighter. Can he stop the imp? Maybe there will be hope if his "native-born, no brains" grandson can team up with this crotchety guardian of Chinese tradition. Yep has written a fast-paced, light adventure that is full of the flavor of San Francisco's Chinatown. The clash of modern and traditional cultures is common among many immigrant groups and perhaps this whimsical look at the conflict will help children value and understand their grandparents. Huang's humorous and lively illustrations capture the personalities and action of the story.Anne Connor, Los Angeles Public Library

Product Details

HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
Edition description:
Product dimensions:
5.12(w) x 7.62(h) x 0.19(d)
Age Range:
8 - 12 Years

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

The Meanest Man in Chinatown

My teacher, Ms. Mason, told my class to write about our grandparents. I put up my hand. "My grandmother is dead," I said.

"Is your grandfather alive, Jim?" she asked me. Reluctantly I nodded my head. "Then you could interview him," she suggested.

I was afraid she would say that. Half of the class lived in Chinatown. They looked at me sympathetically. They knew my grandfather. They knew it would be hard to write about him.

Nobody liked Grandpop much. He spoke his mind and had a sharp tongue too. So he was always getting into a fight with someone. On any given day, he feuded with half of Chinatown.

Sometimes it was his roommates. Sometimes it was the people in Portsmouth Square. Or it was some new waiter at his favorite restaurant. Or it was some tourist who had photographed Grandpop without asking his permission.

Dad said there were ten thousand ways to pick a fight, and Grandpop knew them all. By now people knew to find Dad or Mom, and they would calm Grandpop down.

Last month a tourist's car had almost run over him in the crosswalk as he tried to cross Grant Avenue, the busiest street in Chinatown. Grandpop hammered on the car hood with his cane. Then he started smashing the headlights. When he got tired, he stood in front of the car so it could not drive away. He halted cars for half an hour. The big traffic jam spread into downtown San Francisco.

It had taken both my parents to make him leave. They had had to pay for all the damages. They had also had to explain to a lot of doctors that Grandpop wasn't really violent. He just didn't like fools, andthat included careless drivers.

Grandpop and his bad temper had always made me feel uncomfortable, but after that I was really scared of him. And everyone began to call him the meanest man in Chinatown.

I knew I couldn't write about any of that for my essay. My parents would have died of shame.

That night I cooked the rice. Dad brought home half a roast duck from the butcher shop where he worked.

Mom got home a little after him. Then she fried the vegetables quickly for dinner.

When we had sat down at the table, I said, "I have to write about Grandpop for school. Is there anything nice to say about him?"

Dad defended Grandpop right away. "He's the most honest person I know. He always speaks the truth. And he gets mad at people who don't."

"Is that why he picks fights with everyone?" I asked.

Dad fished around the plate. "He never fought with your grandmom."

Grandmom had died long before I was born. "I wish I could have met her."

Mom put the drumstick on my plate. Dad never let them cut the drumsticks up even if Grandpop said it was wasteful to give such a large serving of meat to one person. "Everyone liked her. She was such a sweet woman."

The door to our apartment slammed open and then shut. Dad never bothered to lock the door when Grandpop was due for dinner.

"Just in time," Mom said in Chinese, and she got up to get him a bowl of rice.

Grandpop limped over on his cane toward the table. "I've lost my appetite."

Dad sighed as he drew back Grandpop's chair. "Who is it this time?"

"That idiot Yang," Grandpop grumbled as he sat down.

Mr. Yang was one of Grandpop's roommates. We were trying to get Grandpop an apartment in our projects, but there was a long waiting list. Right now, he shared a tiny room with Mr. Yang and another man. Grandpop was always moving from place to place, though. His outspokenness got him into trouble with one set of roommates after another.

Mom set the bowl of rice in front of him. "Just try to relax now," she soothed him. "A good meal will take your mind off things."

Grandpop stared at the bowl. "Rice should be fluffy, but look at that stuff. It's all mushy and soggy. Why do you keep using a rice cooker?"

"Because it saves time," Dad said patiently.

Grandpop, though, knew the real source of the trouble. He glared at me. "How come you don't wash and cook the rice in a pot? I showed you how to do it the old way. You're Chinese. Why don't you act like it?"

Grandpop was always scolding me. I was pretty tired of it.

Grandpop added, "Native-born, no brains." Unlike Grandpop, I was born here, which made me native-born. He made it sound like it was all my fault.

"If you clean the rice the Chinese way, you'll wash all the vitamins away," Mom explained, defending me. With her own chopsticks, she picked up the duck's head and deposited it on Grandpop's plate. The head had been cut neatly in half so you could see everything in it. "There, your favorite."

"Do you need to sleep on our couch tonight?" Dad asked.

"No, I'll sleep at home. I didn't say anything too bad this time," Grandpop said.

"Ms. Mason never lets us fight, Grandpop," I said.

Grandpop leaned forward toward me. "What do you see in my face, boy?"

I was so startled, I almost fell out of my chair. I gripped the table while I studied his face. I saw his wide, crooked, flattened nose. Grandpop's forehead was thick and bony, and he had the bushiest eyebrows I had ever seen. He looked ugly, but I didn't say so. I didn't want him to scold me.

"You look like you," I said carefully.

He scowled. I'd lost points with him. I would not get my interview this way. "You're looking at the ugliest face in Chinatown. And you want to know how it got that way?" Grandpop asked. Without waiting for me to answer, he pointed to a scar on his forehead. "See that?"

I nodded. The scar was too big to ignore.

Meet the Author

Laurence Yep is the acclaimed author of more than sixty books for young people and a winner of the Laura Ingalls Wilder Award. His illustrious list of novels includes the Newbery Honor Books Dragonwings and Dragon's Gate; The Earth Dragon Awakes: The San Francisco Earthquake of 1906, a Texas Bluebonnet Award nominee; and The Dragon's Child: A Story of Angel Island, which he cowrote with his niece, Dr. Kathleen S. Yep, and was named a New York Public Library's "One Hundred Titles for Reading and Sharing" and a Bank Street College of Education Best Children's Book.

Mr. Yep grew up in San Francisco, where he was born. He attended Marquette University, graduated from the University of California at Santa Cruz, and received his PhD from the State University of New York at Buffalo. He lives in Pacific Grove, California, with his wife, the writer Joanne Ryder.

Benrei Huang is a popular children's illustrator whose work includes One Hundred Is a Family by Pam Ryan. Ms. Huang lives in New York, NY.

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