ABOUT THIS BOOK
Grades 6 up
Filled with action and adventure and seeped in Chinese culture, this series is perfect for engaging young readers!
Ying hates his grandmaster for denying him the opportunity to train as a Dragon, and holds a deep resentment for his five younger brothers–grandmaster’s favorites. He takes his revenge and burns the Cangzhen temple to the ground, but the five youngsters survive and continue to be a thorn in his side. Yet, when he is betrayed by the emperor and imprisoned, it is his younger sister, Hok, who rescues him. Now Ying begins to realize that Tonglong has been manipulating him for a long time. Ying needs to figure out who are his friends and who are his enemies . . . and he needs to figure it out fast!
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
REVENGE–A hatred for Grandmaster and the pain he has caused in Ying’s life drives Ying to seek revenge and fuels the killing rampage. How does his desire for revenge prevent him from achieving his goal of becoming a general in the Emperor’s army? Ying wants to stand out, to be respected, and most of all, to be feared. Does he ever achieve the status for which he longs? Why or why not?
TRUST–Long helps Ying escape from Tonglong and his soldiers since Ying rescued Hok, Fu, Malao, and Seh from the Jinan Fight Club. Long’s honor motivates him to help Ying even though Ying has proved himself to be filled with hate and revenge. Why does Ying trust that Long will not betray him? In Chapter 21 Ying says he can believe someone, even if he doesn’t trust him. What does he mean? Has this ever happened to you?
HISTORY–In Chapter 16, Ying marvels at the Grand Canal and how it was created. With a partner, ask students to investigate the Grand Canal and report on their discoveries. Students should start with this Web site: www.chinapage.com/canal.html Then assign each pair of students to make a clay topography map of a specific, section of the canal. Students can then arrange their canal sections in the proper order and display the complete map in the library or the classroom.
SCIENCE–Ying hopes to purchase a snake in order to mix its blood with the dragon bone, a mixture that will give him strength and healing. In Chapter 18, the pet vendor at the marketplace describes to Ying the various types of snakes he has available. Ask students to research these snakes by name and appearance to discover more about the types of snakes found in China. Ask each student to select a different snake to report on to the class. Have students prepare a poster board displaying the natural habitat and surroundings of the snake, the snake in its natural element, and possible prey. Display the posters as a herpetological display of the snakes of China.
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