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The Tale of the Mandarin Ducks

by Katherine Paterson
The Tale of the Mandarin Ducks

Illustrated by Leo and Diane Dillon

This powerful Japanese folktale begins when a cruel lord captures a Mandarin duck solely for the prize of its magnificent plumage. When a compassionate servant girl releases the bird after its beauty fades, the lord sentences her and her true love to death. The illustrations are both realistic and illuminating and truly bring this folktale to life.

Enrichment Activities
Internet Resources
Books by Katherine Paterson

Enrichment Activities


  • Explore the Work of Illustrators Leo and Diane Dillon Sometime after reading the Mandarin duck folktale, read students Why Mosquitoes Buzz in People's Ears, a book also illustrated by the Dillons. Have them brainstorm the similarities between the drawings in the two books. As an extra activity they can complete the word puzzle Why Mosquitoes Buzz in People's Ears.

  • Folktale Festival Report After completing this folktale report, students can find Japan in an atlas or on a globe and color in the area on a map of Asia.

  • Is It Found on Land, in Water, or Both? The Mandarin ducks in this folktale lived in the water and on land. Use the activity Is It Found on Land, in Water, or Both? to help students understand that animals live in many different places.

  • Thank-You Cards Students can pretend they are the captured Mandarin duck that is released by the servant. Then, have them write cards to Yasuko and Shozo thanking them for saving "your life."
  • Internet Resources

    Japanese Feudal Lords (Daimyos)
    Grade Levels: Intermediate, Middle, Secondary
    This article describes the history of Japanese feudal lords, also known as Daimyos.
    http://www.ox.compsoc.net/~gemini/simons/historyweb/daimyo.html

    Katherine Paterson Biography
    Grade Levels: All
    Find out about the very interesting and culturally diverse life of this famous author.
    http://books.scholastic.com/teachers/authorsandbooks/authorstudies/authorhome.jsp?authorID=80&displayName=Biography

    Mandarin Duck Photo Gallery
    Grade Levels: Primary, Intermediate, Middle, Secondary
    Beautiful pictures of Mandarin ducks and the colorful markings Katherine Paterson describes in the story.
    http://cyborganic.com/People/feathersite/Poultry/NDG/Ducks/Mand/
    BRKMandarin.html

    The Tale of the Mandarin Ducks Video
    Grade Levels: Primary, Intermediate
    This site allows you and your students to watch a video of the story The Tale of the Mandarin Ducks.
    http://video.dpi.state.nc.us/Tekdata/TaleOfMandarinDucks.html

    Books by Katherine Paterson

    The Angel and the Donkey, 1996
    Angels and Other Strangers: Family Christmas Stories, 1988
    The Bridge to Terabithia, 1977
    Celia and the Sweet, Sweet Water, 1998
    Come Sing, Jimmy Jo, 1985
    Consider the Lilies, 1986
    The Crane Wife, 1981
    The Field of the Dogs, 2001
    Flip-Flop Girl, 1993
    Foxwood Regatt, 1986
    The Great Gilly Hopkins, 1978
    Images of God, 1998
    Jacob Have I Loved, 1980
    Jip: His Story, 1996
    The King's Equal, 1992
    Lyddie, 1991
    Marvin One Too Many, 2001
    Marvin's Best Christmas Present Ever, 1997
    The Master Puppeteer, 1976
    A Midnight Clear: Family Christmas Stories, 1995
    Of Nightingales That Weep, 1974
    Over the Water, 1996
    Park's Quest, 1988
    Parzival: The Quest of the Grail Knight, 1998
    Preacher's Boy, 1999
    Puzzling Book, 1990
    Rebels of the Heavenly Kingdom, 1983
    The Sign of the Chrysanthemum, 1976
    Smallest Cow in the World, 1991
    The Tale of the Mandarin Ducks, 1990
    Tongue-Cut Sparrow, 1987
    Who Am I?, 1992
    The Wide-Awake Princess, 2000
    The World in 1492, 1992


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