Day of the Dragon King

Last updated Thursday, August 23, 2007

Author: Mary Pope Osborne
Date of Publication: 1998
ISBN: 0679990518
Grade Level: 5th    (GLCs: Click here for grade level guidelines.)
Date(s) Used: Sep. 2007

Synopsis: Jack and Annie set off to find an original copy of an ancient Chinese myth. Armed only with their magic library cards, they must take on a book-burning emperor. But with the help of a scholar and a silk weaver, they triumph again.

Note to readers:
•  This is an easy read and you should be able to finish the book.
•  We have read several of the Magic Tree House books in both 4th and 5th grade so the children are probably familiar with the characters. Just in case, read the prologue before and fill them in on the characters and how the Magic Tree House works.

Discussion topics for before reading:
•  Looking at the cover, where do you think Jack and Annie are? (answer is China)
•  Is this modern times or olden times? Have you ever seen clothing like this before?
•  How are Jack and Annie’s clothes different from the Dragon King’s? (answer is Dragon King’s are more colorful and more elaborate) Why do you think there is a difference?

Discussion topics for during/after reading:
•  Would you travel or go on an adventure knowing there could be trouble?
•  Why do Jack and Annie want to save books? Would you do the same?
•  Do you have a library card? What can a library card get you?
•  Have you ever heard of the Great Wall of China? (Show them on the globe) Did you know it is the only man made thing visible from space? (within the last 10 years, astronauts discovered 8 more miles of the wall which were previously undiscovered)
•  What is paradise to you? Why do you think the cart driver thinks paradise is a place with public schools and libraries?
•  If there were no public schools or libraries, would you be able to read? Would some people be able to read but not all people? Are books expensive? Did you know the United States was one of the first countries to allow public education to all children? Why is public/free education a good thing?

Craft ideas:
•  Make a Dancing Chinese Dragon Toy. Draw and cut out a head and tail for the dragon. Decorate the head and tail. Take a piece of construction paper and fold the long way to form 2 long pieces. Fold each piece of paper up like an accordion (make a small fold lengthwise on the SHORT side. Turn over and make a similar fold. Continue to alternate until the paper looks like an accordion.) Glue or tape the two accordion pieces together forming one long piece that will be the animal’s body. Glue or tape the head and tail to the body. Glue or tape one chopstick/straw/folded piece of paper to the head and another to the tail. Hold the chopstick/straw/folded piece of paper and make your dragon dance!
•  Make a dragon mobile. Cut out 5 medium circles, 2 long triangles (for the flame and tail), and 3 medium triangle for scales or 2 medium triangles for wings. Glue the flame and tail on two of the circles. Draw eyes or scales or other designs on the 3 remaining circles. Attach/glue the scales or wings to the remaining 3 circles. Put holes in each of the circles to attach them with string/yarn.

Special activities:
•  Chopsticks will be provided for the Dancing Chinese Dragon craft so why not teach them how to use chopsticks! Chopsticks originated in China but are the traditional eating utensils of China, Japan, Korea and Vietnam. They are traditionally held in the right hand only, even by left handed people. They are used as tongs to pick up portions of food which are usually cut into small pieces or to sweep rice into the mouth from the bowl.
•  HOW TO USE: Hold the upper chopstick with the index finger, the middle finger, and the thumb. Put the other chopstick between the bottom of the thumb and the tip of the ring finger. Move the upper chopstick only when you pick up the food. This is not easy and it’s probably easier to show them if you already know how! Have them practice picking up small balled up pieces of scratch paper.

*Note: These craft ideas are just suggestions. You can use them, but you don’t have to use them. You can expand upon them, or add your own twist. Remember, though, that the focus of your time should not be on the development and execution of a craft; the focus should be on the read-aloud and the enjoyment of the book!