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Tye May
Tye May cover

Tye May and the Magic Brush

Questions for discussion

  1. Define what the values are in this story and how they are encouraged.

  2. Think of the last three stories you have read. What are the values those stories taught? What actions happened that promoted these values in each story?

  3. Who are the "bad guys" in Tye May and the Magic Brush? How do they represent evil in a communist system?

  4. Education has always been important in Chinese history. The government officials were men who had made the highest grades on the yearly government exams, and these were open to every male, rich or poor. If poor families had a son who was brilliant academically, they would make every sacrifice to educate him in hopes of his becoming an official. Girls in China were neer taught to read or write, as society felt that it would "make their heads too hard and stiff" - just as girls were not taught physics or math in the West, thinking it would make them "unfeminine". Today, education is compulsory in China, for both boys and girls. It is still extremely competitive, with many of the best jobs going to those with the highest grades. Who gets the best jobs in the United States? How much does education have to do with "success" here? What does "success" mean in the United States? How are we taught our values? (Do most children in class know that US children spend more time watching television than they do in school?)

  5. How does the ending of Tye May and the Magic Brush differ from that of most folktales?
    Chinese names for children all have meanings. The name Tye May means "Iron Plum-Flower". Why is this an appropriate name for the heroine? What does your name mean? Why did your parents choose it for you?

  6. The original Chinese version of this story had a boy as the protagonist. I changed him into a girl in my version. Does this make a difference? If so, what?

Classroom Activities

  1. Work out the overall pattern of the story with your students. If you have trouble thinking about how to do this, click on the picture of Tye May at the right to see a sample pattern.

  2. Have the students make up a story of their own using this pattern. You can choose a specific country and/or time period in which the hero/ine might live, and the actions and the characters would then have to conform to these.

Here is an example of a pattern for the story of Tye May...

1. Heroine: poor and orphaned
a. shows determination and hard work
b. is rewarded with magic gift

2. Uses gift to help the poor

3. Bad guys
a. try to take gift from her three different times
b. are tricked and overpowered by Heroine using magic gift

4. Heroine continues to use magic gift appropriately

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copyright 2016 by Molly Bang