Summary and Review of The Tiger’s Apprentice by Laurence Yep

Tigers Apprentice Unlock The Power Within

Summary and Review of The Tiger’s Apprentice by Laurence Yep

the Tiger's Apprentice

The Tiger’s Apprentice is the first book in Laurence Yep’s fantasy trilogy for middle-grade readers. Published in 2003, it combines ancient Chinese mythology with a modern-day setting in San Francisco. In this action-packed tale, 12-year-old Chinese-American Tom Lee becomes the apprentice to a magical tiger named Mr. Hu and joins a ragtag group of mythological creatures on a quest to protect a powerful phoenix egg. With themes of friendship, responsibility, and self-discovery, The Tiger’s Apprentice is an engaging fantasy appropriate for ages 9-12.

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Tom lives with his grandmother, who he thinks is a bit eccentric with her talk of magic and legends. His life is turned upside down when his grandmother is killed by evil forces searching for the phoenix egg she had been protecting. Tom soon learns his grandmother was actually a powerful magician guarding the egg that had the power to bring either peace or destruction to the world. He meets the magical tiger, Mr. Hu, who tells Tom that he is now the new guardian of the phoenix egg. Though doubtful of his abilities, Tom joins Mr. Hu’s band of allies – an outlaw dragon, a mischievous monkey, and more – on a quest to keep the egg safe from the evil Clan of Nine. Tom starts learning magic and how to harness his own emerging powers. After many adventures and narrow escapes, Tom and his friends are able to defeat the Clan of Nine and secure the phoenix egg, restoring peace.


Tom Lee: 12-year-old Chinese-American protagonist. At the start, he thinks his grandmother is strange for believing in magic, but he comes to accept his destiny as the tiger’s new apprentice and guardian of the phoenix egg. Mr. Hu: A magical tiger who was once Tom’s grandmother’s apprentice. He guides Tom in his training. The Monkey: A greedy but good-hearted monkey skilled in martial arts. He is one of Tom’s allies. The Dragon: A young outlaw dragon who can take both human and dragon form. She joins Tom’s quest despite her distrust of humans. The Clan of Nine: The main antagonists who seek to steal the phoenix egg and use its power for evil ends. Led by the sinister Vatten.

Tigers Apprentice Unlock The Power WithinAnalysis

A major strength of the novel is how Yep seamlessly blends Chinese mythology and fantasy elements with the modern world. The mix of magic and realism makes the story feel fresh and innovative.Yep also crafts vivid descriptions, from the lush landscapes of mythological realms to the streets of Chinatown. Action sequences are equally thrilling, with narrow escapes and dramatic magical battles.Over the course of his hero’s journey, Tom grows from a doubtful boy to a young hero willing to accept his responsibility as the Guardian. The theme of friendship is emphasized as well, as Tom builds bonds with his ragtag group of allies.While the book has a satisfying conclusion, the threat of the Clan of Nine still remains, leaving room for the next installment of the trilogy.


With its likable protagonist, touches of humor, and emphasis on action and magic,¬†The Tiger’s Apprentice¬†makes an appealing choice for fantasy fans ages 9-12. Those interested in Chinese culture or mythology will find Yep’s setting and world-building particularly engaging.The book is comparable to Rick Riordan’s Percy Jackson series, bringing ancient legends into a modern setting, though Yep’s integration of Chinese folklore stands out as unique. Fans of Riordan’s works or of avatar series like Avatar: The Last Airbender would likely enjoy discovering the world of the tiger’s apprentice.I highly recommend The Tiger’s Apprentice as a fun, adventure-filled read that also inspires reflection on themes of identity, responsibility, and friendship.

Comprehension Questions

  1. What precious item was Tom’s grandmother protecting?
    • The phoenix egg
  2. Who does Tom train under to learn magic?
    • The tiger Mr. Hu
  3. What group is trying to steal the phoenix egg?
    • The Clan of Nine

Tom and Dr. Hu from The tigers Apprentice

Other sources and reviews

Movie Release

Release Date: The movie is set to premiere on Paramount+ streaming on February 2, 2024.Cast:
The voice cast includes Henry Golding, Lucy Liu, Brandon Soo Hoo, Michelle Yeoh, and Sandra Oh.Directors:
The movie is directed by Raman Hui and co-directed by Paul Watling and Yong Duk Jhun.Screenwriters:
The screenplay is written by David Magee and Christopher Yost.Music:
The musical score is composed by Steve Jablonsky.Animation Studio:
The movie is a 3DCG animated feature produced through a collaboration between Paramount Animation and Mikros Image Europe.

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