Case of the Lion Dance (Chinatown Series #2)by Laurence Yep
An ex-movie star turned publicist, Auntie Tiger Lil is a pro at getting people to pay attention to herespecially thieves! Though she was trying to draw all types of people to the opening of the Wok Inn Restaurant, neither Auntie nor her niece Lily expected that one of them would ruin the lion dance contest and make off with a big donation to charity. When the
An ex-movie star turned publicist, Auntie Tiger Lil is a pro at getting people to pay attention to herespecially thieves! Though she was trying to draw all types of people to the opening of the Wok Inn Restaurant, neither Auntie nor her niece Lily expected that one of them would ruin the lion dance contest and make off with a big donation to charity. When the plans for the opening go up in smoke, Auntie Tiger Lil and Lily must comb Chinatown to find the culprit. Was it a lion dancer, a gang member, or someone behind the scenes? As in The Case of the Goblin Pearls, Tiger Lil and Lily find themselves embroiled in a mystery that could happen only in Chinatown.
Pacific NW Library Assoc. 2001 Young Reader's Choice Award Masterlist
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.
Read an Excerpt
With legs spread, the drummer struck the surface of the heavy, red cylindrical drum. His muscles stood out in cords on his back. His sticks became a blur as the sound thundered down the street through the tall canyon formed by the skyscrapers of the financial district and the smaller valleys created by the Chinatown buildings.
I felt my pulse match the beat-as if the drummer controlled my heart. Next to him, his rival began to strike his own drum in counterpoint.
Before the new Chinese restaurant stood a forest of green shrubbery rising from dozens of pots wrapped in red foil. Red ribbons dangled from the sides. The Chinese characters on them were wishes for good luck and prosperity on the restaurant's opening. More ribbons with good wishes had been taped to the insides of the windows. They were written in what Auntie assured me was elegant Chinese calligraphy.
Across the doorway stretched an even longer red ribbon, which the deputy mayor was to cut with a pair of huge scissors. Inside there were tablecloths, and roses in vases, and napkins folded up like birds.The Wok Inn was to feature a trendy menu mixing Chinese and French cooking. The Chinese dumplings were stuffed with goose pate rather than ground pork. The cabbage a la Bretonne used Chinese cabbage. Auntie had put on ten pounds sampling the dishes and helping to set the menu.
Auntie had scheduled the opening at lunchtime, so a crowd of business types in suits and ties and bows was gathering. Down Columbus were even more flooding out of the skyscrapers in search of a meal and heading toward us, drawn by the booming drums. Tourists here for Eastervacation and Chinese were coming from Chinatown.
I was just making a last-minute check before the beginning of the lion dance contest. Morgan and Ann Fisher had once run the Ciao Chow, which was of one of the fanciest and most popular restaurants in San Francisco. Now they were trying to start a new one, the Wok Inn. And they had asked my great-aunt, Auntie Tiger Lil, to help publicize it. She'd come up with the idea of having a lion dance contest between two martial arts schools to draw in a crowd. Naturally enough, one of the schools had been Barry Fisher's. He was Morgan and Ann's son. He and Akeem, another boy I knew, were getting ready for the contest.
Suddenly I heard a boy shout, "You'll never win!" in Chinese. And he added a string of insults.
I turned to see a boy about my age, twelve. His head was completely shaved. Like my friends Akeem and Barry, he wore a T-shirt and loose black pants tucked into white socks, so I assumed he was also involved in the martial arts but was one of their rivals in the coming contest.
Barry held up his hands, trying to calm the boy down while Akeem said, "Speak English, Kong."
Kong looked around and focused on me. "Look at these dogs," he announced loudly for the spectators. "They can't even speak Chinese, and yet they ape us."
I made my way through the growing crowd to head off a fight. "What trouble?" I asked in my broken Chinese.Kong seemed puzzled. Thinking he had not heard me, I yelled the same thing. Instantly his expression changed to contempt, making me wonder if I had used the wrong words or flubbed the tones. I understood Chinese better than I spoke it.
"The only thing worse than them"-he jerked a thumb at Barry and Akeem-"is a Chinese who can't speak Chinese." He sneered.
"I try learn," I said feebly.
"You're nothing but empty bamboo," Kong said. "Yellow on the outside, hollow on the inside."
At that moment, though, Barry and Akeem's teacher, Professor Sheng, strolled over. He was a small, stocky man who wore loose black pants and a short black cotton jacket with red piping.
"Be quiet," he ordered. "Treat even your rivals with respect."
Kong stared insolently at Professor Sheng. "Why did you have to choose him?" He pointed at Barry. "It's an insult to have to compete with a half-breed!"Professor Sheng sucked in his breath, squaring his shoulders and holding his head erect. "Apologize."
Barry and Akeem had not understood one word of this whole exchange, but Barry seemed to understand the tone, at least. He whispered into Akeem's ear and then went into a crouch, as if he were riding a horse.
"If you've got a problem with Barry," Akeem said, "he's willing to settle it."Professor Sheng turned sternly to Barry and Akeem. "Learn to curb your anger." He spoke English with a slight British accent.
While he thought Barry was distracted, Kong suddenly kicked out his leg. Barry must have seen the movement from the corner of his eye; he managed to catch Kong's foot. For a moment Kong hopped up and down on his other foot. Then Barry gave a shove, and Kong fell on his backside.Kong jumped to his feet immediately. "I kill you!" he screamed in English.
Barry went into his stance again. "Try it."
There might have been a battle right there on the sidewalk, but Professor Sheng stepped between them. "You are a disgrace," he said to Kong.
At that moment a tall, skinny man in his seventies came over. He had the rigid posture of a career soldier. He had on a satin robe and black coat, and on his head was a black cap. He looked like one of the photos of Chinese mandarins I'd seen in a book.
As soon as Kong saw him, he came to stiff attention.
"Kong, get ready for the contest," the man said. I assumed the man was Kong's teacher, Master Wang, from Chinatown.
Professor Sheng fought to control his temper. "Your student should apologize to mine."
Master Wang gazed scornfully at Professor Sheng. "For what? You've bastardized our art and prostituted our discipline."
Professor Sheng began to crouch as Kong had done. "I've shared our teachings with all people."
Master Wang was smiling as he took up the same stance. "They don't belong to mongrels."
Because of Kong's reaction to my Chinese, I used English. "Please-this is supposed to be a friendly contest."
Professor Sheng glanced at me and then straightened slowly. "Lily is right," he said. "This is supposed to be a happy occasion. We're opening a wonderful new restaurant."
Master Wang's lip curled up on one side. "I knew you'd find an excuse to back out of a fight." He nodded to Kong. "Come. They're all cowards. There's no honor fighting with them."
With a contemptuous toss of his head, Kong followed his teacher.
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