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!
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?
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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