A Chinese Beauty and the Beast Tale
A poor farmer with seven daughters is on his way home from his farm when a dragon seizes him and says he will eat him unless one of his daughters marries him. Seven (who makes money for the family with her excellent embroidery) agrees and they fly away to a gorgeous home, wonderful clothes, a great life…and he reveals he is a prince in disguise. She misses her home, and while there, Three, who is jealous, pushes her in the river and steals her identity. Seven is rescued by an old lady and uses her wonderful sewing skills to make clothes and shoes they can sell in the market. The prince, realizing something is wrong, seeks his real bride and finds her because he sees her embroidery in the market. Happy ending all around—except for Three.
Lawrence Yep, ©1999, Harper Collins, ISBN 978-0064435185
Figures of Speech (Simile)
There are many many similes…well, I counted 9, but there may be more. This might be a good time to teach what a simile is. Perhaps read the story to them first, and then read the story to them a second time, asking them to identify the similes.
- The dragon raised a paw with claws as sharp as daggers.
- The lakes became silvery sequins.
- The Milky Way…like an endless bolt of the whitest silk.
- The moon…shone like a giant pearl upon the sea.
- I could crush you like a twig.
- His scales gleamed like jewels in a golden net.
- His eyes shone like twin suns.
- Curling his body as easily as a giant.
- Moon…like a school of fish darting.
A Craft: Embroidery
You might be able to purchase small embroidery hoops at a local dollar store. Choose a simple pattern, perhaps of a dragon, transfer it to simple white cotton, and have students embroider it in a single colour. There are many times in Chinese stories that silk, embroidery, etc. are a turning point in the story. One of these is The Silk Princess, another is The Dragon’s Robe, and of course, The Dragon Prince.
Using a Venn diagram, students can prepare a chart comparing how this Beauty and the Beast story is the same as, and different from, the original. Decide whether to read them the original, or count on their knowledge of the Disney version.
A simple method is to ask students to first write a rather pedestrian opening sentence such as: “This is a comparison of the classic Beauty and the Beast with Laurence Yep’s version, The Dragon Prince.” They can choose to write about at least three ways in which they are similar and about at least three ways in which they are different. Have them conclude by stating whether they are more similar or more different. At this point, have them re-write the opening sentence to be more dramatic and interesting, and also to write a conclusion that has pizzazz. Voila! It may not be amazing, but it is serviceable and can be used for a “decent” B mark throughout their student life.
For 8 creative writing ideas, click The Dragon Prince to download.