ABOUT THIS BOOK
Grades 6 up
Filled with action and adventure and seeped in Chinese culture, this series is perfect for engaging young readers!
Hok, a crane-style kung fu master, is also a master at hiding. For the past 12 years, she has hidden the fact that she is a girl. Now her rogue brother, Ying, and his army have placed a huge price on her head. Fortunately, she manages to make it to Keifeng where she finds her mother and a “round-eye” with the very funny name of Charles. Together Hok and Charles start to make some sense of the magnitude of Ying’s plans.
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
COURAGE–Hok is most courageous. She battles for her own survival after she fights with General Tsung, walking for days with a broken arm and bruises and scratches all over her body. Jumping into the fighting ring with Scar to save Malao, Hok is forced to fight General Tsung again. And alone she breaks into the Emperor’s prison to free Ying. What summons such courage within her? Why is she willing to risk her life for the lives of others? How does Hok’s courage pay off for her?
LOYALTY–When Hok learns that Seh has been left blind from the poisonous dart, she encourages him to develop new skills to adapt to his blindness. Seh sulks and pouts and tells Hok to leave him alone, but she refuses to be put off by his sullen behavior. Eventually, Seh gives in, and Hok teaches him crane kung fu techniques that focus on balance. Why does Hok refuse to give up on Seh when he is so mean to her? What role does PawPaw play in helping Hok reach Seh?
SOCIAL STUDIES–Even though the Jinan Fighting Club matches occurred in China in AD 1650, they can be compared to fights of World Wrestling Entertainment, the largest professional wrestling organization in the world. To focus on similarities in what occurs when the fighters/wrestlers are in the pit/ring, divide student into groups of three and ask them to reread Chapters 30 and 31, making a list of commentary from the crowd, names of the fighters, betting procedures, and other items of interest that might compare to a WWE event. Then show a short clip of a WWE wrestling match and ask the students to add to their list additional, similar, and/or dissimilar items, specifically noting the crowds’ behavior. Lastly have students write and present a script for fight entertainment at the Jinan Fighting Club including Fu and Malao.
SCIENCE–In recent years, alternative medicine has regained some popularity due to negative side affects and the rising cost of prescription drugs. Ask pairs of students to research alternative medicines for specific illnesses: colds, flu, diabetes, high blood pressure, arthritis, depression, cancer, heart disease, high cholesterol, headaches, and others. Ask each pair of students to find an alternative medicine or treatment that could help someone with one of the above diseases and write a brochure explaining the “cure” or prevention and its advantages over conventional prescription drugs.
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