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  • The Five Ancestors Book 3: Snake
  • Written by Jeff Stone
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  • Written by Jeff Stone
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On Sale: February 10, 2009
Pages: 208 | ISBN: 978-0-375-89180-9
Published by : Random House Books for Young Readers RH Childrens Books

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On Sale: March 14, 2006
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Synopsis|Excerpt

Synopsis

Twelve-year-old Seh is a snake-style master and a keeper of secrets. Close-lipped and ever-watchful, he has used his highly attuned senses to collect information about his brothers, his temple, and even Grandmaster. Now, with the temple and Grandmaster gone, Seh sheds his orange robe like an old skin, joins a bandit gang, and meets a mysterious woman whose name means Cobra—all the while trying to stay one step ahead of vengeful Ying!


From the Hardcover edition.

Excerpt

Prologue

Eight-year-old Seh slid his lanky body along the enormous rafter high above the Cangzhen banquet table, doing his best to disturb as little dust as possible. Even in a room as dark as this, Grandmaster would notice a single particle drifting toward the floor. Grandmaster was that good.

But Seh was better. As long as he didn’t lose focus.

Once in position, Seh stretched to his full length and flattened himself against the top of the wooden beam. He began to slow his breathing. His heart rate slowed to that of a hibernating reptile beneath a sheet of ice. She began to wait.

An hour later, Grandmaster entered the room. Although Grandmaster didn’t say a word, Seh knew exactly who it was.He sensed powerful chi–life energy– radiating from Grandmaster’s body like heat from the sun.

Seh slowed his breathing further. He needed to keep his heart rate as slow as possible so that the chi coursing through his own nervous system would not alert Grandmaster to his presence. As long as he remained calm, Grandmaster would not detect him. Dragon-style kung fu masters like Grandmaster and Seh’s brother Long possessed tremendous amounts of chi, but they weren’t particularly good at detecting it in others. Snake stylists like Seh, however, were masters at detecting the most minute amounts in any living creature.

As Grandmaster stepped farther into the hall, She heard a second man stop in the doorway. Seh took a long, slow breath.

Seh focused on the visitor and noticed something strange. The man seemed to possess no chi at all, which was impossible. All living things possessed chi. This
could mean only one thing–Grandmaster’s visitor was masking his, something only snake-style kung fu masters knew how to do. And the only snake-style master to ever visit Grandmaster in the middle of the night was–One corner of Seh’s mouth slid down his long face in a lopsided frown. He peeked over the rafter toward the moonlit doorway and his eyes confirmed what the pit of his stomach already knew. Grandmaster’s visitor was a man named Mong, a local bandit leader. Mong meant “python” in Cantonese. Seh had had more than one humiliating encounter with the gigantic snake-style kung fu master over the years, and he had no interest in seeing the man again.

Grandmaster turned to Mong and whispered, “Do you sense that we are alone?”

Seh remained perfectly still and watched Mong scan the room. Seh was enshrouded in darkness and positioned at a severe angle from the doorway. He was certain he was invisible. Yet when Mong’s eyes hesitated as they passed over the rafter, Seh knew he had been discovered. Mong had sensed his chi. Seh was about to begin his retreat when Mong turned toward Grandmaster.

“Yes, we are alone,” Mong said. “Nothing here but the occasional small pest.” Mong entered the hall and closed the doors behind him.

Seh clenched his teeth. Pest? he thought. Seh wondered whether Mong was trying to make him angry so that his heart rate would rise and he’d reveal himself. There was nothing Seh hated more than getting caught when he was sneaking around.

Seh did his best to stay calm. He needed to stay focused.He suspected that Grandmaster and Mong were both dealers of secrets. They would trade them like
other people traded gold for silk or silver for swords. She wanted those secrets. Especially if they involved him and his brothers–and Seh had a hunch they would.

“What news do you bring?” Grandmaster asked Mong. “And what might you require in return for sharing it?”

“I have no new information,” Mong replied. “This visit is purely personal.”

Grandmaster nodded. “The boys are progressing well,” he said. “I suspect they’ll all be masters in record time. Though I worry about the maturity level of some of them. Fu and Malao in particular come to mind.”

Mong chuckled. “I imagine Fu and Malao could be a handful, especially if they’re together. How is Long doing?”

“Very well,” Grandmaster replied. “He is wise beyond his years.”

“That’s good,” Mong said. “And what about the girl?”

“Hok is progressing well, too.”

Seh nearly tumbled off the rafter. Hok? A girl? He took a long, slow breath. Mong was trying to break his concentration, and that last bit of information had nearly done it. But Seh was certain he could remain calm, no matter what Mong said next.

He was wrong.

“And what about my son?” Mong asked.

No . . . , Seh thought. It can’t be. . . . He swallowed hard as his heart began to beat in his throat. He couldn’t control it. He glared down at Mong, wondering if it was a trick.

It wasn’t.

Grandmaster glanced up at the beam. “Seh is also progressing well. Perhaps too well. I worry about him most of all.”


From the Hardcover edition.
Jeff Stone

About Jeff Stone

Jeff Stone - The Five Ancestors Book 3: Snake

Photo © Courtesy of the Author

Jeff Stone lives in the Midwest with his wife and two children and practices the martial arts daily. Though Mr. Stone isn't Chinese, his wife is. She’s from Hong Kong and speaks Cantonese, Mandarin, and English fluently. They have two children, a daughter age 5 and a son age 3. Both children speak Cantonese and English. Mr. Stone thinks his English skills are pretty good, but his Cantonese still needs a lot of work.
Like the Five Ancestors, Mr. Stone was adopted as an infant. He began searching for his birth mother when he was eighteen and found her fifteen years later.
Mr. Stone has worked as a photographer, an editor, a maintenance man, a technical writer, a ballroom dance instructor, a concert promoter, and a marketing director for companies that design schools, libraries, and skateboard parks.
When he isn’t busy hiking, fishing, reading, playing sports, practicing martial arts, or traveling to Hong Kong with his wife and two children, Mr. Stone can usually be spotted writing at home.
Teachers Guide

Teacher's Guide



ABOUT THIS BOOK

Grades 6 up
Filled with action and adventure and seeped in Chinese culture, this series is perfect for engaging young readers!

Twelve-year-old Seh is a snake-style master and a keeper of secrets. Close-lipped and ever-watchful, he has used his highly attuned senses to collect information about his brothers, his temple, and even Grandmaster. Now, with the temple and Grandmaster gone, Seh sheds his orange robe like an old skin, joins a bandit gang, and meets a mysterious woman whose name means Cobra–all the while trying to stay one step ahead of vengeful Ying!

TEACHING IDEAS

USING THE SERIES AS A WHOLE

KUNG FU—STYLE DOCUMENTARIES
In groups of three or four, have students research one of the animals–tiger, monkey, snake, crane, or eagle–in its natural habitat, exploring the following questions and more: What are the animal’s physical attributes and how does it move? What adaptations ensure its survival? What are its sleeping and feeding habits? Who are its natural enemies? Have students relate their research findings to the personalities and abilities of Fu, Malao, Seh, Hok, and Ying. How would one monk naturally get along with the other monks? Which monks would be natural enemies? How do their natural abilities help them in their kung fu styles? Next have the groups write and film a short video “documentary” explaining how the animal relates to the kung fu style of the monk. They will need to incorporate a variety of visual elements and sequences in their animal documentary and explain the role the animal plays in the young monk’s life that they chose to research. For example, the albino monkey in Malao’s life, the snake that attaches itself to Seh, the crane that helps Hok, and the tiger that stays in the distance for Fu. Students may follow the model of public television animal programs or may adapt the edgier tone of documentary programs such as The Crocodile Hunter.

CANGZHEN TEMPLE CHARACTER CHRONOLOGIES
Divide students into five groups and give each group one of the books in the Five Ancestors series. Ask each group to follow their character from the burning of the temple to the end of the series, making a list of each of the major stops along their journey, noting when possible the time lapse between moves the character makes, who he or she is traveling with, and the moves of the other characters. Then on a long piece of bulletin-board paper have each group first write their character’s events on a time line, and then illustrate in color each event along the time line, making a mural that shows the travels and experiences of all five of the monks after the temple burned. When the time line is complete, students will be able to see where the lives of each brother and their sister have intersected on the journey to their destiny.

A FINE LINE: TRACING THE LINEAGE OF THE FIVE ANCESTORS
A family tree traces the background of a family to its origins. Starting at the bottom of the tree, ask each pair of students to write the names of each of the five monks, and on the same horizontal level write the names of their brothers and sisters. Just above the monks and their siblings, students should write the names of their parents (fathers and mothers) using both the animal name and the Cantonese name of everyone in the tree. If additional explanations are needed about any of the relationships, ask students to write the explanations on a side bar and identify the additional explanations with numbers correlating to each monk. Two generations of Cantonese monks has made for a strong family tree. Ask students to write on one side of the tree a brief explanation of how each of the five young monks came to be at the Cangzhen Temple.

DISCUSSION AND WRITING

TRUST–Seh accepts and trusts what his father says and does what he asks. Why is Seh so willing to trust his father, a former monk turned bandit? Why does Seh keep secrets about his family from his brothers when trust is essential for their survival?

REVENGE–Tonglong’s well-plotted revenge against Ying has finally paid off with Ying in prison, and Tonglong leading his troops. Why is Ying so surprised to discover Tonglong’s betrayal? What motivates Tonglong’s betrayal?

SUGGESTED ACTIVITIES

ART–In Chapter 15, the fight at the bandit stronghold in the banquet hall brims with powerful words, phrases, and images. Chapter 31 similarly depicts Tonglong and his men as they attack the crowd at the Dragon Boat Festival. Divide the students into pairs and give each pair a segment of one of these two chapters to illustrate manga style. When each pair has completed their segment, assemble the sections chronologically together to form chapter booklets.

LANGUAGE ARTS–At this point in the series, the author has revealed information about all five of the brothers’ parents. As a class, make a list of the information that you know about the parentage of each of the four brothers and their sister, noting the book in which they find the information and the page number on which they find it. Compile the information on a classroom chart, allowing room for additional information to be added. Have students select one of the parents–father or mother–and write one of the following to share with the class:

• A nomination with rationale for “Parent of the Year”
• An acceptance speech for “Parent of the Year”
• A “Guide to Better Parenting” brochure

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