The Five Ancestors

The Five Ancestors, by Jeff Stone

In 1647, the newly dominant Qing dynasty outlawed martial arts and killed all the warrior monks of the Shaolin temple. Author Jeff Stone bases his series The Five Ancestors on the premise that five young monks-in-training survived. In his version, each boy was trained in the fighting style and bears some personality traits of a certain animal: the tiger, the monkey, the snake, the crane, and the eagle. Each book in the series bears the title of one animal and recounts the adventures of the boy bearing that animal’s name after he escapes the destroyed temple.

The Five Ancestors has been described as graphic novels without the graphics. This visually descriptive quality makes these books perfect for young readers who like to imagine themselves as part of the action of a book. And action there is; fighting scenes abound with plenty of blood. But the violence is like that in comic books- quick and with lots of cool moves. Along with all the action comes a steady peppering of ageless wisdom: fight if you must, but only in defense; fear the one kick practiced a thousand times, not the ten thousand kicks practiced only once. As the adventures unfold, each boy struggles to manage his individual character weaknesses as he strengthens his ability to do what’s right, and to see things from the perspective of others.

With a fairly low reading level of third to fourth grade and an interest level of sixth to eighth, these books are favorites with boys who have limited pleasure reading experience.  However, all kids, even older kids, with an interest in martial arts and Buddhism enjoy this series.

-Gaby Chapman

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Filed under 9-12 Grade, Book Recommendations, boys, Easy Reading, Reluctant Reader

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