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The Master Puppeteer ()

National Book Award: Children's Literature (1977)

In 18th Century Japan, the city of Osaka is wracked by starvation.  Young Jiro tries to help his father to make puppets for the local theater, but is so clumsy he's more a hindrance than a help, which his shrieking harridan of a mother is only too willing to point out.  When one day he accompanies his father to the theater, sees how much food they have, and is complimented by the owner, Jiro decides to ask for work there.  He is taken on, but Yoshida, the Master Puppeteer, proves to be an exacting taskmaster.  He is particularly hard on his own son, Kinshi, who warns Jiro :

    We all learn here by the honorable path of horrible mistakes.

But learn they do, and eventually Jiro learns that there's a mysterious connection between the theater and Saburo, the Robin Hood-like thief, who is stealing rice from city officials and rich merchants, to give to the poor.

The excitement in this book, and it's considerable, comes from the mounting political tensions gripping the city.  But the real fascination comes from the detailed world of the theater that Paterson presents.  Ms Paterson is one of the most decorated author's of children's books--this one won a National Book Award--and it's easy to see why.  The Master Puppeteer is both fun and informative.


Grade: (B+)


Katherine Paterson Links:

    -PROFILE: Katherine Paterson: The weight of the world on small shoulders (Susan Faust, January 26, 2003, SF Chronicle)

Book-related and General Links:
    -ACCEPTANCE SPEECH : Katherine Paterson 1977 National Book Award for The Master Puppeteer
    -THE PUPPETRY HOME PAGE :  A Brief Introduction to the History of Bunraku by Matthew Johnson
    -Bunraku Puppet Theater
    -Bunraku Multimedia Page (Roberto C. Ferrari)
    -Teacher/Student Guide (San Diego County Office of Education)
    -Bridge to Terabithia : Official Katherine Paterson Webite
    -ENCYCLOPAEDIA BRITANNICA : "katherine paterson"
    -ENCARTA ENCYCLOPAEDIA : "Katherine Paterson"
    -SPEECH : Scott O'Dell Award Acceptance Speech : Katherine Paterson
    -ACCEPTANCE SPEECH : Katherine Paterson 1977 National Book Award for The Master Puppeteer
    -REVIEW : of IT TAKES A VILLAGE  And Other Lessons Children Teach Us by Hillary Rodham Clinton (Katherine Paterson, NY Times Book Review)
    -INTERVIEW : with Katherine Paterson (Scholastic)
    -INTERVIEW : A Conversation with Katherine Paterson (The National Book Foundation)
    -Featured Author : Katherine Paterson (Carol Hurst)
    -Katherine Paterson (Children's Book Guild)
    -AUTHORS ONLINE : Katherine Paterson (Scholastic)
    -Paterson, Katherine (Educational Paperback Association)
    -The Internet Public Library : Katherine Paterson
    -ESSAY : Why Bridge to Terabithia Should not Be Banned (Kent L. Bryson)
    -ESSAY : Vision of Self in Katherine Paterson's Jacob Have I Loved (Patricia A. Liddie)
    -ESSAY : Katherine Paterson's Lyddie: Travel Within and Beyond (Laura Zaidman)
    -LITERATURE GUIDE : to Bridge to Terabithia (Nancy Polette)
    -STUDY GUIDE : (Brian Thornton, Capo Creations)
    -STUDY GUIDE : to Bridge to Terabithia (Mr. Fullerton's 5A)
    -STUDY QUESTIONS : for Bridge to Terabithia (Beyond Books)
    -ARCHIVES : "katherine paterson"  (Find Articles)
    -ARCHIVES : terabithia (Find Articles)
    -LINKS : Katherine Paterson (ERIC Clearinghouse on Reading, English and Communication)
    -LINKS : Katherine Paterson WWW Links (Catherine Morris and Inez Ramsey)
    -ESSAY : BRIDGE TO TERABITHIA: An Analysis by Eric Petersen
    -REVIEWS : of Bridge to Terabithia (Charles & Phoebe, Planet Book Club)
    -REVIEW : of  JIP His Story. By Katherine Paterson (Kelleher Jewett, NY Times Book Review)
    -REVIEW : of  IMAGES OF GOD By John and Katherine Paterson. Illustrated by Alexander Koshkin    (Perry Nodelman, NY Times Book Review)
    -BOOK LIST : Katherine Paterson (Salon)

    -INFO : Bridge to Terabithia (1985) (
    -INFO : Bridge to Terabithia (1986) (Rotten Tomatoes)

    -Banned Books Week (ALA)
    -The 100 Most Frequently Challenged Books of 1990-1999 (ALA)
    -ARTICLE : Banned Books Week : Book challenges drop, but librarians, writers remain wary (Thurston Hatcher, September 26, 2000,
    -Censorship (National Council of Teachers of English)
    -ESSAY : Censorship in the cyber age (Reading Today, Feb, 2001)
    -ESSAY : Backward, Christian soldiers : The Christian right may be hurting at the top, but at the grass roots, it's still a force to be reckoned with (Harry Jaffe, Salon)