cover image The Lost Garden

The Lost Garden

Laurence Yep. Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing, $12.95 (0pp) ISBN 978-0-671-74160-0

In this somewhat desultory but affecting autobiography, Yep ( Dragonwings ) describes himself as a collection of disparate puzzle pieces: a Chinese-American raised in a black neighborhood, a child too American to fit into Chinatown and too Chinese to fit in anywhere else. Writing, he explains, has conferred on him the role of puzzle-solver, allowing him imaginatively to join and even reinvent the pieces. Among the most notable figures in Yep's unassuming narrative are his hardworking, indomitable parents, owners of a grocery that requires their unflagging attention, and his Chinatown grandmother, the model for several characters in his novels. Occasional flashes of humor or whimsy--an eccentric chemistry teacher's antics, the revelation that Yep wrote his Mark Twain books to the music of the B-52s--enliven the mix. Ages 11-13. (May)