The Tiger's Apprentice: The Tiger's Apprentice Series #1

The Tiger's Apprentice: The Tiger's Apprentice Series #1

5.0 3
by Laurence Yep

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It isn't every day you meet a tiger. And certainly not a tiger in a suit and tie. And definitely not one who knows your first name.

From that minute on, Tom's life changes forever. Tom has always felt different from everyone else, but he has no idea how different he really is until he learns that he is the latest in a long line


It isn't every day you meet a tiger. And certainly not a tiger in a suit and tie. And definitely not one who knows your first name.

From that minute on, Tom's life changes forever. Tom has always felt different from everyone else, but he has no idea how different he really is until he learns that he is the latest in a long line of magic-wielding beings called Guardians. For centuries, a Guardian has protected a powerful talisman that can either bring peace to the world or bring about its destruction. it has been kept safe-until now.

For now, the most evil being of all has sent his terrifying minions to lay siege to the talisman and its latest Guardian, a tiger called Mr. Hu. The Guardian has his own allies in the battle, including an outlaw dragon, a mischievous monkey, and his new apprentice-Tom. But Tom doesn't want to be the tiger's apprentice. What can he possibly do to help this ragtag band? And can they all stop bickering long enough to unite their powers in time?

This rich, action-packed fantasy from two-time Newbery Honor author Laurence Yep reveals a hidden world within our own-where animals take human form, where friendship is the final weapon in the battle between good and evil, and where a young boy must save the world he knows . . . and the one he is just discovering.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
PW called this novel starring a boy, a dragon and a monkey (among others) who attempt to secure and protect a fabled phoenix egg, an "original fairy tale that successfully mixes fantasy and Chinese history." Ages 10-up. (Jan.) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Children's Literature
Chinatown, San Francisco. Demons and animal-persons and shape shifters; people who are not what they seem; old houses, treasures, and those who would kill to steal them. Indeed, this is an adventure story for the fantasy-prone as young Tom discovers secrets his Grandmom did not think he was yet ready for. Except that now there is no choice; Grandmom has been dispatched heavenward, her soul rescued by the giant moth that swooped down from the sky after the intruders did their rotten deed. Tom is now, by default, apprentice to the reluctant, elegant Mr. Hu, a tiger in his other identity. And there is no time for mourning because they must track down and rescue the rose for which his Grandmom gave her life. This Book I of what is destined to be a series is no match for the Harry Potter phenomenon, but it is a good read, especially for boys and anyone looking for a rip-roaring adventure in an Oriental setting. Author Yep has two Newbery books already to his credit (Dragon's Gate and Dragonwings) and he knows how to fashion a page-turner. The publisher suggests ages 10 to 14, but many 8-year-olds will handle this quite well, especially if they've cut their teeth on that English wizard's story. 2003, HarperCollins,
— Judy Chernak
Yep returns to modern-day San Francisco in this first installment of a projected fantasy series. Tom Lee lives with his elderly Chinese grandmother whose unusual habits are the subject of neighborhood gossip and the reason Tom winds up in frequent skirmishes with the bullies at his middle school. Mistress Lee is apprenticing a reluctant Tom in the magical arts of the Lore. Tom learns just how powerful his grandmother is when he comes home to find a shape-shifting tiger named Mr. Hu in his living room. Mistress Lee is Guardian of a mythical phoenix egg that is disguised as a rose; Mr. Hu was one of her students in his youth. Tom is not quite ready to take over the guardianship, but his grandmother is hoping that he will become a more diligent student. Evil forces attack the house, steal the rose, and kill Tom's grandmother, thereby framing the adventure that ensues. A mischievous monkey and the exiled dragon, Mistral, join Mr. Hu and Tom in their search for the rose. The characters' squabbling and very human manner of traveling through the city keep the story fresh and light. Chinese history and mythology are successfully woven throughout the story to illuminate Mr. Hu's instructions as the shape-shifter takes over as guardian/teacher of young Tom. VOYA Codes 3Q 3P M J (Readable without serious defects; Will appeal with pushing; Middle School, defined as grades 6 to 8; Junior High, defined as grades 7 to 9). 2004, HarperCollins, 192p., and PLB Ages 11 to 15.
—Cynthia Grady
School Library Journal
Gr 5-7-San Francisco is the setting for this modern-day fantasy. 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. The rose, a phoenix egg in disguise, is stolen by Kung Kung's lieutenant, who wants to use it to take over the world, and a motley crew of bickering magical creatures goes on a mission to get it back. The action is nonstop, with one predicament and villain after another, and plenty of humor to lighten things up. Tom's friends may be exotic, but they still have to take buses and taxis to get across the city, squabbling like siblings all the way. Some scenes feel a bit too familiar (a magical marketplace in Chinatown called Goblin Square is quite reminiscent of Harry Potter's Diagon Alley), but the emphasis on Chinese folklore and culture keeps the story fresh. The sense of menace from a powerful enemy isn't as strong or as pervasive as it could be, which sometimes gives the impression that Tom and his cohorts are on an afternoon jaunt rather than an urgent and dangerous quest, but the plot is still compelling, with enough strings left hanging to make readers eagerly anticipate the next book in this projected series.-Eva Mitnick, Los Angeles Public Library Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
This colorful fantasy seamlessly weaves ancient Chinese mythology into the contemporary city of San Francisco. Twelve-year-old Tom Lee, who lives with his grandmother, arrives home one day to find an old man with furry ears opening his door for him. The man turns out to be a tiger, Tom's grandmother turns out to be a powerful magician guarding a world-changing object, and Tom himself turns out to bear a sudden burden of responsibility. Thrust quickly into a skirmish, Tom barely has time to ask what's going on before he and the tiger are escaping onto the roof with the magical object while his grandmother remains inside to fight monsters. Her death is shocking but helps Tom begin to understand how important the object must be. A phoenix egg disguised as a cheap coral rose; the object holds the power-in the wrong hands-to flood the world with chaos and destruction. Mr. Hu, the tiger, has now become its Guardian, and Tom his apprentice. A dragon, a golden monkey, and a flying yellow rat join their forces, employing both enchantments and wit as their task takes them underwater, underground, and finally into another realm. Chapter-beginning quotations about the relevant Chinese mythology and its creatures give the story a deep, archetypal element. Near the end, Mr. Hu shares his soul to save Tom's life; what Tom will be like as part tiger, and what the monsters will try next to procure the object, must wait for the second entry in this simultaneously gentle and suspenseful series. (afterword) (Fiction. 9-12)

Product Details

HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
Tiger's Apprentice Series, #1
Edition description:
740L (what's this?)
Age Range:
10 - 14 Years

Read an Excerpt

The Tiger's Apprentice

Book 1
By Laurence Yep


ISBN: 0060010134

Chapter One

It isn't every day you meet a tiger. And certainly not a tiger in a suit and tie. And definitely not one who knows your first name.

The tiger was the last thing Tom Lee expected as he stumbled up the steps to his grandmother's home.

It was a grand old house in the Inner Richmond of San Francisco. Gingerbread shingles covered its sides like scales, and pigeons cooed under its ornate window eaves. It seemed to have cast some magical spell that protected it and its neighbors from being replaced by the cheap, ugly apartment houses that had swallowed up the rest of the city. However, today, Tom didn't want to admire it. As he hurried up the steps, he just wanted to hide inside - away from all the people staring at the big bruise surrounding one eye and the torn sleeve of his blue shirt.

At the park Jack, an eighth-grader, had called Tom's grandmother a weirdo - which everyone in the neighborhood did because of the way she decorated her house. It was full of magical charms - strange designs on paper, wood, and stone, and words written in a ghostly script. Hanging everywhere were mirrors with trigrams - sets of three lines, either solid or with a gap in the middle - from an ancient book called the Book of Changes. They made up patterns that could tell the future and had magical powers. And incense was always burning before bizarre statues.

When she walked down the street to do her shopping, their non-Chinese neighbors turned and whispered to one another. The Chinese in the area treated her as if she were invisible, and the Chinese shopkeepers were afraid to say a word to her and always waited on her first, as if they were in a hurry to get her out of their shops - not that she cared. She was proud of working magic and was even teaching Tom the rudiments of what she called the Lore.

Unfortunately for Tom, the neighborhood's attitude had filtered down to the children, who stuck Tom with the same label - weirdo. Bullies - Chinese or not - loved to pick on anyone different, and they had made Tom their favorite target. He couldn't ignore an insult slung at his grandmother, who had taken care of him ever since he was a baby. His archaeologist parents had disappeared somewhere in Malaysia when he was only a year old. Everyone, including Tom and his grandmother, assumed they were dead.

Even though he was small for his age and his opponents were usually much larger, he defended his grandmother almost every day, and the frequent fights had earned him his own reputation as a troublemaker. His folder in the school counselor's office was stamped at risk.

So why should today be any different than any other day? Though Jack was an eighth-grader, Tom had demanded he take back his rude words. Of course, Jack wouldn't, and so there had been a fight. The real problem was that Jack had brought pals just as big as he was.

It would have been so much easier if Tom could have turned them into lizards, but his grandmother refused to teach him those spells until she was sure he would not misuse them. So Tom had had to use his fists. Against Jack alone, he might have stood a chance - which Jack knew and was why he had dared insult Tom's grandmother only when he had a gang around him.

"Turning them into lizards is too good for them. Fungus, maybe," Tom said to himself as the steps creaked under his feet. He couldn't wait to get inside the house. It was his fort, strange as it was. Within its walls, he felt safe from the rest of the world. And maybe he'd work on her again to teach him some spells he could use for defending himself.

At the door he fumbled for his key and found he had forgotten it. So he jabbed the doorbell hard. "Please, Grand-mom. Hurry up," he muttered.

When the door opened, though, it was a stranger who greeted him. "Good afternoon, Master Thomas. Your grandmother has been telling me wonderful things about you." The visitor took in the black eye and the torn sleeve and scratched his head. "But I see she might have been exaggerating a tad."

The stranger looked like an elderly man with a trim, gray mustache and goatee - except for his furry ears. The stranger brushed his goatee. "Do I have something on my face? Is that why you're staring?"

Tom's grandmother had taught him some basic spells, and one of them was for showing the true shape of things - which she said was essential for anyone working in magic. Curious about his grandmother's visitor, Tom chanted the words under his breath. He jumped when the next instant he saw a tiger standing there on his hind legs.

In the Chinese folktales his grandmother told him, animals could talk, but he had always thought those were just stories. He'd never expected to meet a talking animal.

"Is that you, Tom?" his grandmother called from the kitchen. "Where have you been?"

Suddenly Tom stood tongue-tied out of shame. He'd been so small when his parents had disappeared that he didn't remember them. Whenever Tom wanted a hug or a kind word, he could always count on his grandmother, but it was her voice he loved best. There was always a smile hidden behind her words. Her voice reminded Tom of a stream chuckling as it ran over rocks. He felt guilty for ducking out of his grandmother's lessons today, especially since he had run into Jack and his gang.

Impatiently the tiger slipped a watch from a pocket in his suit vest and consulted it. "I'd step inside unless you intend to eat on the porch. Mistress Lee, I think you'd better fetch Master Thomas if you don't want him turning into a porch fixture."


Excerpted from The Tiger's Apprentice by Laurence Yep
Excerpted by permission. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

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.

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