Alice Provensen (along with her husband, Martin) is one of my favorite picture book authors and illustrators. This lovely book contains two stories from Ancient China. The Master Swordsman is a charming and humorous story with great illustrations and fun repetition.
“How heavy the pails! How endless the wood! How far the well!”
‘“LOOK SHARP!” glugged the jug… “ATTENTION!” clacked the box… “BE ALERT!” creaked the log. “THAT’S THE WAY” wheezed the teapot.’
This is another story in which the conflict is harder to identify. It is clear that Little Chu needs to learn how to protect his village, but the antagonist seems harder to identify. He has to be patient and persevere (Man vs. Self), but this doesn’t seem particularly difficult for him. He has to stand up to the bandits (Man vs. Society), but that doesn’t seem to be the central conflict. He seems to need time to learn the skills and wait for his moment to arrive (Man vs. Fate).
I think some cabbage-chopping is needed after reading this story. Or, at the very least (and more safely), some tea-drinking. Or maybe a long list of chores…
Crime Scene [Setting]
Little village of destitute rice farmers with huts in valley near mountains, each with a small piece of land
Lonely hut in mountains
Seems like the real world until objects start talking
Little Chu wandered months before finding Master Li
2 years passed at Master Li’s hut
Poor rice farmers
Little Chu—boy, wanted to help, brave, leader, hard worker, tolerant, agile, chef
Master L—volatile, cunning, old, wise, deliberate, strong, patient
[P.S. I had flashbacks of The Karate Kid the whole time I was reading this story. Grin. Maybe older students could compare the two.]