The Master Puppeteer

The Master Puppeteer


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Who is the man called Sabura, the mysterious bandit who robs the rich and helps the poor? And what is his connection with Yosida, the harsh and ill- tempered master of feudal Japan's most famous puppet theater? Young Jiro, an apprentice to Yosida, is determined to find out, even at risk to his own life.

Meamwhile, Jiro devotes himself to learning puppetry. Kinshi, the puppet master's son, tutors him. When his sheltered life at the theater is shattered by mobs of hungry, rioting peasants, Jiro becomes aware of responsibilities greater that his craft. As he schemes to help his friend Kinshi and to find his own parent, Jiro stumbles onto a dangerous and powerful secret....

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780064402811
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 03/24/1989
Series: A Trophy Bk.
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 192
Sales rank: 403,956
Product dimensions: 5.12(w) x 7.62(h) x 0.38(d)
Lexile: 860L (what's this?)
Age Range: 10 - 14 Years

About the Author

Katherine Paterson is one of the world’s most celebrated and beloved authors. Among her many awards are two Newberys and two National Book Awards, and she was recently named a "Living Legend” by the Library of Congress. She has been published in more than 22 languages in a variety of formats, from picture books to historical novels.

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

Jiro shook his hair out of his eyes and bent once more over the worktable. He dipped the brush into the glue and began to apply it to the inside of the puppet bead that lay in two halves before him. Jiro licked his lips. He must be careful. The last time be had not put on enough glue, and the bead had fallen apart before it could be delivered to Yoshida at the theater. The trick was to put just the right amount, not a stroke too little or too much.

Hesighed and droppedthe brush back into the glue pot. His big hands — much too big for his skinny thirteenyear-old body — were shaking so that he was afraid a spot of glue would fall on the strings and ruin the works which made the puppet's eyes and eyebrows move. It had taken his father more than two weeks to perfect the mechanism. Jiro grabbed his right hand with his left and commanded it to stop shaking. It was the strong fishy odor of the glue that was upsetting him, he knew. If only be weren't so hungry. What would happen if he ate some of the glue? Would his insides stick together like the two sides of a puppet head?

How stupid he was! If he finished the head properly, his father would paint it, and the puppet would be assembled and sold to Yoshida. By the end of the week they would have some money with which to buy food, and he could stop wondering what glue would do to his belly.

He reached for the glue brush and began, as carefully as his still-shaking hand would allow, to apply glue to the other side of the head.

"You've put too much on it." Jiro jumped at the sound of his father's voice. Hanji, the puppet maker, was kneeling just behind him. The boyreached for a scrap of cloth and was about to wipe off the excess glue when Hanji stopped him. "No, no. Don't use that. Your mother .may be able to salvage it for a costume."

"Then what am I to use?" Jiro's voice was shrill, but he hadn't meant to yell. His father bated anyone to lose control of himself.

"Here." Hanji took the brush out of the glue pot and nudged the boy. "Move over. I'll do it." Delicately he flicked the brush across the edge of the pot. "The secret is to get just the right amount of glue on the brush. See? Not too much, not too little."

I know, I know, the miserable boy groaned to himself. I know all the secrets, all the tricks. I just can't do them with you hanging over my shoulder.

"Hungry?" his father asked quietly.

"I'm all right."

"It's hard to be hungry at your age. When we sell the puppet, we'll have something better-rice, maybe."

Rice. The thought of rice made Jiro's head feel light. He imagined the smell of it bubbling on the charcoal stove.

"Your mother is back. See if you can help her."

Jiro got to his feet reluctantly. "Can't I help you here?"

"No, not now. " I'm finished." Hanji put down the brush and, without touching any of the mechanisms, joined the two halves of the head together, fastening them with a wooden clamp. "Go on. I'll clean up."

Jiro went through the half curtain that separated the shop from the back of the house. The back door was slid open, and be could see Isako on all fours, blowing at the charcoal in the brazier.

"Do you want me to do that, Mother?" He licked his lips, the top lip left to right, and the bottom right to left.

"What? Oh, no. I've almost got it going." She looked up. "Why aren't you helping your father?"

"He sent me to help you."

"What did you mess up this time?"

Jiro blushed a deep red. "Nothing."

"Nothing, huh?" She went back to her blowing.

"Do you want me to get the water?"

"What?" She looked up again, her face pinched with irritation. "You know I can't talk and make a fire at the same time. Yes, yes-get some water. Get anytbing — just get out from under my eyebrows."

Jiro put the bamboo pole across his shoulders and bung a wooden bucket at each end.

"Don't try to fill them too full."

"No, I won't."

"And don't loiter. It's not safe. And don't keep licking your lips. You look like a stray cat."

It was good to be out of the house. Though it was late afternoon, the sun was still high in the summer sky. There were fewer and fewer people on the streets these days. The poor were too hungry to waste their energy strolling about, and the merchants and those who bad a little something feared to go out lest they be robbed by the renegade samurai, the ronin, who had forgotten the code of honor but not how to wield their long curved swords.

His mother would often lament the state of affairs. "Look what we've come to. Where will it all end?" But Jiro could not remember a time when things had been much better.

He was born, as Isako never let him forget, the year of the plagues. Why should he, an unwanted infant, have survived while his older brother and two sisters died? Sometimes he felt that his mother could not forgive him-as though he had sucked their life away in claiming his own.

Now for nearly five years, there had been famine. The Shogun blamed the daimyo, and the daimyo blamed the rice merchants, and the merchants blamed the farm landlords, and the landlords blamed the peasants, who, as they died, blamed the gods.

Table of Contents

Son of Hanji
The Feast
Yoshida Kinshi
The Hanaza
The Fourth Fearful Thing
Bad Omens for the New Year
Okada's New Play
Command Performance
Night Rovers
The Proof in the Storehouse
A Matter of Life and Death
The Master Puppeteer
The Smashings
Fireman of Namba Cho Brigade
Debts of Honor

Customer Reviews

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Master Puppeteer 3.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 30 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I was forced to read this in the seventh grade, and it sucked! I thought this would be good, like Bridge to Terrabithia, but it's all about Japan, the characters aren't interesting, and then it's depressing. I suggest you read better books!
cjoymr on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
An interesting introduction to medieval Japan. I'd love for this book to have more historical background as to the time period it takes place during, but I love the story. A good book for a teen (some pre-teens) who is interested in the culture of Japan
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
kayla2206 More than 1 year ago
Kayla Watson
October 22,2008
Humanities Class

Book Review

¿Don¿t bother your mother boy¿! Hanji downed the last of his tea and turned to Jiro (Patterson p.5). Hanji is the deceitful father in The Master Puppeteer. This mind blowing story written by Katherine Patterson, tells of a family living in poverty whose son goes to live with Yoshida, the owner of the Havana (the theater). This fiction book will keep you guessing throughout the read. I highly recommend this book to people who like stories that keep them on the edge of their seat. If you enjoy books that get straight to the point, then this is not for you, because you have to infer what will happen in the next chapter.
Nothing is clearly stated, the chapters mostly end during a rising action and you have to continue reading in order to figure out what the outcome was for that chapter. For example, no one knew that Kinshi¿s father was Saburo, which was the black man. ¿How can a blind man be the dashing Saburo¿? (Patterson p.149). On this page everyone has recently discovered that the old blind man was Saburo but, no one wants to believe that they¿ve been getting robbed by an old blind man. So everyone is in denial.
People who don¿t like to be surprised while they read shouldn¿t consider this. For example, Jiro did not dare look his master in the eye after he was ordered not to. ¿Bow your head in shame don¿t look at me unless you are told to¿ said Yoshida. He jerked his head in a bow and hurried to obey (Patterson p.98). This chapter stopped without telling what he did wrong and what he was going to do after he got yelled at.

Therefore, if you don¿t like books like this then you wouldn¿t enjoy reading it, and probably wouldn¿t understand the concept of the book.
I enjoyed this book because it told someone¿s life story in a way that I understood it. The beginning of the book confused me because I couldn¿t keep up with the characters and who was speaking. Also, the fact that it took two chapters for Jiro to deicide whether he wanted to go to the Havana or stay home with his family. After the first three chapters the book started to make sense and stay on one track. The Master Puppeteer is a very interesting book. The title might sound boring, but once you get into it you are drawn in by all the action and conflict and pretty soon you will also want to recommend this book.
Erock More than 1 year ago

The Master Puppeteer: Book Review

He¿s a shadow at dawn and a ghost at dust. He is Saburo, the bandit who is a mystery to all at the Hanaza. The title of this book is The Master Puppeteer by Katherine Paterson. The story takes place during the time of Japan¿s isolationism, where a young boy named Jiro goes on a journey to find who this bandit is. Throughout the story the bandit steals from the rich and gives to the poor. I recommend this book to those who enjoy action, and learning about information of another culture.

A strength of The Master Puppeteer is that it has a good conflict. The conflict is interesting because Jiro, the main character is trying to find out who Saburo is. Throughout the story, Saburo was a thief that stole from the rich and gave to the poor, but no one knows who he was. The only clue they had was a poem that he left to distract them. For example, he leaves a poem at the Hanaza and people are excited to see if he will show. ¿The bandit¿s message was a source excited speculation¿ (Paterson#87).

Another strength of The Master Puppeteer is that it informs you about Japanese culture. It tells you about Japanese culture by talking about Japanese religious ceremonies. One of those ceremonies is the puppet show. The Japanese people get dressed in costumes and they have swordfights. The ceremonies are located in the Hanaza, a Japanese place for worship.

Some my say that The Master Puppeteer has strong language, and is hard to read. However, I disagree because it makes you a stronger reader, by challenging yourself. Then after a while you would often want to read a higher level of books.

I still recommend this book to those who enjoy conflict. I also recommend this book because it tells you about certain ceremonies, and it even tells you about the Japanese place of worship. So this book is recommended to those types of readers.
Xochitl More than 1 year ago
Xochitl Vergara
October 23, 2008
Jiro¿s Immense Journey

"Will he kill me?" It was a simple question. The terror that he had felt in the dark storehouse seemed to have vanished¿ (Paterson 175). This is what Jiro asked himself after finding out who Saburo was, and not knowing what to do with the information. Jiro is the main character in the book The Master Puppeteer, written by Katherine Paterson, a novel that takes place during the Japanese period of isolation. I recommend this book because it is suspenseful and its language includes sensory details.
One strength of The Master Puppeteer is its language. The language is full of metaphors and sensory details. These details allow the reader to picture the story easily. For example, when Jiro goes after the people he loves the most, Isako and Kinshi, he is surrounded by smoke.¿ The air was soon full of smoke, and up ahead fingers of fire pierced the evening sky¿ (Paterson 153). The reader can feel the smoke with his/her senses and the metaphor of the fingers of fire allows the reader to picture the threat in his/her head.
Another strength of The Master Puppeteer is its suspense. The book has so much suspense it leaves your heart beating so hard. Suspense leaves readers wanting to read more into the book to know what happens. For instance, Jiro hears a knock on the door, but when he comes out, there is no one there only a note has been left behind. ¿What¿s this Kinshi twisted about? A white paper was nailed to the door¿ (Paterson 86).
On the other hand, some people may say that the book is too confusing for a teenager to understand. However, if you read further and further into the book, everything comes together like puzzle pieces. So the reader just has to be patient.
The Master Puppeteer is a great novel. I would recommend it to people who like suspenseful moments and language that includes sensory details.
StephanieI.7 More than 1 year ago
The book The Master Puppeteer by Katherine Paterson is about a young boy named Jiro who is a puppet maker who works for Yoshida, the master puppeteer. While working for Yoshida, Jiro finds something very strange going on. This story takes place during Japan's isolationism. I wouldn't recommend this book to anyone because it is very confusing at times.
This book was very confusing because of the way the author thought. For example, ¿Will he betray me...?¿ Yoshida studied Jiro for a moment. 'Why do you think he means to kill you?¿ `Last night in the storehouse. I don't know. Perhaps he was only trying to frighten me.' 'Perhaps he was trying to test you. He knew you would not betray me because of your loyalty to Kinshi. But Kinshi is not Okada's son. He has to know you would not betray him either. Perhaps he had devised a trial...¿ (Paterson 175). This quote was confusing because you might not understand what Yoshida is trying to tell Jiro about the whole Kinshi and Okada situation. The book is very hard to understand. For example, "It's all right, Mother..." "It's all right really. You mustn't be upset. At the Hananza they never talk in the way that ordinary people like you and me understand. But they mean no harm." "Oh, let her worry." Kinshi reached his left arm across the quilt to pat Isako's hand. "Let her worry. She deserves a little happiness." (Paterson 179). This is confusing because you won't understand what Kinshi is telling Isako about his mother, as if Isako should let her cry for happiness even though she is sad or he should do something about it.
Some may say that The Master Puppeteer is a version of Robin Hood but even better, because it's in a different culture. However, learning about different cultures may be very confusing to understand. If you can't enjoy a book you don't understand, then what's the point of reading it, because you have no clue what's going on in the book.
I don't recommend the book The Master Puppeteer to anyone because it's very confusing to understand and what¿s the point of reading a book you don¿t even get.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
it was a good book that everyone can enjoy
Guest More than 1 year ago
¿The puppeteers act like the shadow of the doll and become its victim in manipulating it,¿ says Miyake Shutaro. The award winning author Katherine Paterson of The Master Puppeteer wrote such an amazing book. The Master Puppeteer is filled with so much mystery, excitement, mischief, and drama. The main character, Jiro, goes through a lot of struggles while fulfilling his dream to become a puppeteer. While working towards his dream he comes across a mysterious man named Saburo. The very determined Jiro wants to find out who Saburo really is and what his connection with the master puppeteer is. This book has a lot of strengths. The book¿s theme is one of its strengths, one example of one would be when the character Hanji told everyone he was sick when he really wasn¿t sick. This can be labeled as the lesson or the theme because it show that lying wont get you nowhere and you end up getting caught in the end. Also with lying you would have to tell 20 more to cover up the first you just told, so that¿s why it¿s just better to tell the truth. This is important because it teaches the person to not lie. This book had a few weaknesses. One example of one would be the characters. The characters are too realistic. That¿s a weakness because with the characters seeming so life like they would start to get really boring. The some of the characters in this book would have you wondering why they do the things they do. And why are the some mischievous?, seeing for instance that Okada was mischievous towards Jiro. This book can be a good read and it also can be a bad depending on what type of reader is reading the book. With this book being filled with so much mystery it can actually be a good read. The Master Puppeteer can be read by any age group whether its teenagers, adults, or middle aged kids. So if mystery is what you like to read, then this is the book for you. The bad part about this book is that characters would make you less interested with the book because they seem so real life.
Guest More than 1 year ago
The Masters Puppeteer Book Review What if you based your future on puppets? This book, The Masters Puppeteer, by Katherine Paterson, tells the story about a Japanese boy named, Jiro. This story takes place in Osaka during the 1800¿s. This story tells us the struggles of Jiro before and during his time in the puppet business. His parents didn¿t want Jiro to live with them anymore, so Jiro turned to Yoshida for a job and a place to live. Throughout the story, Jiro uncovered many secrets about the people he knew. The book¿s strengths are that it had believable characters and descriptive language. The book had characters that the reader could connect with. ¿¿I know, I know,¿ the miserable boy groaned to himself.¿ (Paterson 2). The reader could connect with Jiro because this is probably how the reader also sometimes reacts. The book also had a lot of descriptive language. ¿He was still wide awake when Kinshi slipped out from between his quilts and tiptoed silently out the Hanaza.¿ (Paterson 120). Instead of the author just telling us what is happening, she uses descriptive words to show us how he left out the Hanaza. This book¿s strength is that the reader can connect with the characters and visualize what is happening. The book¿s weakness is that it wasn¿t a page-turner. Throughout the book it usually got boring, and there were only some times that the book would get interesting. This book got boring in the beginning and in the middle. The book would get boring because nothing interesting will happen for a long time. If the author can¿t make the story interesting, the reader will lose interest and stop reading the book. I do recommend this book because it gives good historical information on Japan. If you want to learn the life of a Japanese person in the 1800s in Japan, this is a good book to read. This book is a good book for teenagers because it talks about the life of a teenager in Japan, and they will be able to relate to the book.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Let¿s say you¿re living an easy life with no worries or stress, and then one day everything becomes different. Life starts becoming difficult. What would happen to you? This is the dilemma that young boy Jiro, son of Hanji and Isako, is facing. Jiro is an apprentice training to be an artisan. Throughout the book The Master Puppeteer by Katherine Paterson, Jiro goes through many difficulties. He starts to experiment mental change. This book is very thrilling and filled with action. Descriptive language is what makes readers read the book. The characters¿ actions are revealed by language such as ¿Jiro stood, his back against the thin window, hardly breathing as if by not making a sound. He could remain invisible to the blind man.¿ (Patterson149) This helps readers visualize the story and would make him or her want to continue reading. One weakness is that in the first couple of chapters, the reader might lose focus while reading the book. In the beginning of the book, there seems to be no action. Nothing is really going on until you get to about the third chapter. An example of dullness would be the very first sentence, ¿Jiro shook his hair out of his eyes and bent once more over the worktable. ¿I see the first couple of chapters as a disadvantage because it might not catch the readers¿ attention right away. A recommendation to anyone who picks up this book would be to stay focused and interested in the first couple chapters. It might seem a little boring, but you must hold on a bit longer. Once readers pass a few chapters, they won¿t want to stop reading. In this book, the main character goes through things like change, guilt, manipulation and trust. Teenagers would be most interested in this book because it is mostly about trust. Trust would be considered as being a big lesson in life.
Guest More than 1 year ago
The Chronicles of Jiro Jiro is a brave young man who tries to help all his friends and family. Jiro finds out that he has responsibilities of his own and is living on his own, because he leaves his parents in the middle of the night to go to the hanaza. Jiro also thinks that his mother has not forgiven him for surviving a disaster that killed his siblings but not him. Jiro know wants to pursue his dreams of becoming a puppeteer. He faces lots of obstacles on his journey to becoming a good puppeteer. The characters in The Master Puppeteer are very interesting. The most interesting character is Saburoause he is like a savior to the poor people. Saburo Steals from the rich and gives to the poor. ¿Who the one who steels from the rich and gives to the poor, we worship his feet,¿ said. For some readers, that¿s interesting because that gives the book more interest and adventures. Some readers will be able to make connections to the characters, because they might agree that they want a hero to look up to. The Master Puppeteer had a very uninteresting plot. The plot to the story was very hard to follow because the reader doesn¿t know where the plot is trying to go. The plot of this story is for a focused reader because the reader needs to be able to understand all of what¿s going on in the story, or the reader may lose all interest in the story. The book has a lot of different messages to it. It¿s hard to decipher the book¿s main message, and that takes away from the book¿s interest. This book is recommended because of the message and history the book teaches. To read this book, you must be a patient and inquisitive reader. This book also gives background related to the isolation period in Edo two centuries ago. The Master Puppeteer is suitable but not strongly recommended for a younger reader. The good qualities of the book include great imagery and very interesting characters.
Guest More than 1 year ago
As the only child that survived the plague when his older brother and two sisters died of sickness, Jiro feels that his mother will never forgive him for surviving those conditions. This is what young Jiro is facing in the book The Master Puppeteer by Katherine Paterson. When Jiro is helping his father take a puppet to the master puppeteer, he suddenly has an idea that he can work there. During this time of slow famine, Jiro needs to do something before he and his family starve to death. Jiro can¿t really do much because he is under the control of the Shogun, but to survive and the best way 'he thought' was to go he work for the master puppeteer. There are a lot of strengths in this action-packed story of a family and what they do to survive. The characters¿ actions and words became more believable as the chapters go on. Patterson made Jiro¿s mother Isako meaner and her actions more human. For example, when Isako joined the gang of night rovers, she was more determined than ever to do what she had to do to get herself some food. Although she had no other way to find food, she behaved more like an animal than a mother who had just lost her husband. This book also had a few weaknesses. One weakness was that as the book ended, it started to become more complicated to understand the main character¿s train of thought. Another weakness is that it became difficult to understand. It explained what Jiro was thinking in different parts of the book, and it began to seem like most of his thoughts were pointless. This book should be read by teens who like action and like family-based stories. This book should not be read by teens that have a very hard time understanding things and get easily confused. This book is good but this is not the type of book that you would want to read again and again.
Guest More than 1 year ago
The Master Puppeteer has much strength. Strength of the novel is the way it is written. The author uses many figurative language skills to put more feeling into her writing. For example, the author uses personification to give action to different objects throughout the story. ¿The puppet¿s dance was as well as a real woman you could not tell the difference between real person and the puppet.¿ {p.56} . It is sometimes hard to follow the story through the writing and some of the words are hard to understand why she uses them. In the start of the book the characters are hard to understand and the plot makes you think what was the purpose of having this section in the novel. ¿As the fire went through the city I had noticed a fireman that I had seemed to have a resemblance of my father who was sick and in the country. How could he possibly be here if had was sick had he been lying to else all this time.¿ {132} I would recommend this book to anyone who likes drama and the suspense of a great story. The relationship between the characters is amazing. They are so involved with each other they all try to help each other with all of the problems that they have and go through
Guest More than 1 year ago
The Master Puppeteer has interesting descriptions and suspense. I liked it a lot.
Guest More than 1 year ago
very boring from the beginning, but became interesting later on...i enjoyed the book but i suppose it needs something added to it...
Guest More than 1 year ago
the book master puppeteer was ok, but it wasnt very well written. The writer could have put in more detail, descriptions, and better usage of words. i cant say it sucks, but it wasnt the greatest book
Guest More than 1 year ago
Please for your sake don't read the book, the caracters get confusing and the book drags on untill the last few pages
Guest More than 1 year ago
I have to read this book for english class.... the whole class is supposed to be on chapter 3... i cant even get past the third page! it's soooo boring!
Guest More than 1 year ago
I really loved reading The Master Pupeteer because I believe it has a bit of mystery in it because you want to know who Saburo is. It also leaves you with something to think about; I read it for a class and I couldn't stop reading it!!! I had to finish reading it before time.
Guest More than 1 year ago
this book started out pretty boring.But as you read more of it the story becomes more exciting and realistic katherine keep u the good work!! =)
Guest More than 1 year ago
I liked the book it was very boring but got very interesting. I haven't finished the book yet but so far it is good. It is a good book for inglish class. Asain Pride ya!
Guest More than 1 year ago
I really liked the Master Puppeteer. I thought it was a good book for people who want a little more advanced reading. At some parts I was a bit confused, but overall the book was great.