Dragon of the Red Dawn
by Mary Pope Osborn
Illustrated by Sal Murdocca
About the book:
Merlin is not well and he is full of sorrows. Annie and Jack must help him by discovering what an ancient Japanese poet named Basho learned about happiness. Jack and Annie explore 17th Century Japan but must avoid Samurai and a raging fire in the capital city before they can learn the secrets that will help Merlin survive.
Read the prologue and explain what kinds of adventures Jack and Annie have been on before. What does the word mythical mean? What adventures were mythical for them and which ones were from actual history? How do you know the difference?
Have you ever read a Magic Tree House book before? How does the magic in the story work? Do Jack and Annie ever get in trouble at home for their adventures far away? How do they get back in forth in time? Where would you like to go if you could visit anyplace in history?
Reading Reflections: JAPAN
Fill out the following KWL (Know, Want to Know, Learned) Chart based on the book.
What I KNOW about Japan:
What I WANT to know:
What I learned by reading
Dragon of the Red Dawn:
- What do Jack and Annie need to discover as they visit ancient Japan? Who needs this information? Why? What things make you happiest?
- Describe Edo (Tokyo) in the 17th century. What made this a dangerous location for foreigners during this time? Why did this put Jack and Annie in a difficult position to help Merlin?
- What did Basho teach his students? Why was poetry considered important for a samurai to learn? Would you like to study with Basho? What does Basho mean when he says, “Words can outlive their creators.”
- Why is the dry spell frightening for the residents of Edo? How can they fight fires? Why does Basho tell Jack and Annie to stay near the river?
- What is the most fascinating fact you learned about Japan while reading this book? What more would you like to learn about Japan and its people?
- How do Jack and Annie use the wand of Dianthus? Why doesn’t it work at first? What rules must they follow? How does it help the people of Edo?
The Secret Path to Happiness:
Sequence: To help Merlin, Jack and Annie must discover the secret of happiness, can you put these events from the story in the sequence that they appear in the novel? Scan the book to check your answers before turning your paper in.
_____ Visit Basho’s castle
_____ They ride down the river with fishermen.
_____ Use the wand of Dianthus to help stop the fire.
_____ Teddy and Kathleen come to get Annie and Jack’s help.
_____ Jack and Annie head home with happiness tucked inside to share.
_____ Basho tells the samurai that Jack and Annie are his students, Baku and Koto
_____ They race to help put out the fire in Edo.
_____ Annie and Jack appear in the Imperial Garden
_____ Watch a sumo wrestling match.
_____ Ride the Cloud Dragon over Edo.
_____ The kids discover that eating with chopsticks is harder than it looks!
_____ Jack recites a bad poem for the samurai.
_____ The kids run away from a samurai
Answers: 9, 5, 11, 1, 13, 4, 10, 2, 7, 12, 6, 8, 3
Basho’s Best Students:
Either take a walk in a natural area or study a wildlife photograph (National Geographic magazines are ideal) and be inspired to write a haiku like Basho.
Haiku is a traditional three-line Japanese poem which consists of counted syllables: five for the first line, seven for the second, and five again for the third. It often gives a hint to the season or reflects on nature. Haiku is always created by close observation.
Great Haiku Poets:
Research and read other books written by these great Japanese poets of Japan: Basho, Buson, Issa, Izumi Shikibu, Ono No Komachi. Then, find your favorite haiku and illustrate it using a piece of poster-board. These pieces can be displayed to create an entire hall of haiku.
Understanding Master Basho:
Jack and Annie get to know Basho a little bit at a time, just like a reader gets to know a character in a story. A reader learns about a character by what they say, how they are described, and how other characters treat them. Discuss what you learn about Basho by filling out the following web:
A View of Japan
Sal Murdocca the illustrator for Dragon of the Red Dawn creates pictures with fascinating detail about Japan. In addition, he plays with the perspective (or view) of his topic (look on p.64 for a terrific aerial view of Basho’s home). Sketch your own scene from ancient Japan from at least two different perspectives and try to show as much detail as you can on these topics food, dress, architecture or entertainment as you can. Share your sketches with a partner and display your best.
Perspectives to explore: from the sky or ceiling, child-level, bottom up, widescreen, zoom in, landscape or portrait.
Novel Ideas: Understanding Conflict
Every novel has a problem and sometimes there are more than one! In Dragon of the Red Dawn Jack and Annie face several problems that they must resolve. As you read the story take notes on the problems and the solutions. Use these to discuss the book with a partner or as a class.