Chapter Study Guide
Risuko, by David Kudler
Chapter 1—“The Left-Hand Path” pp. 5-10
- Why does the narrator’s mother call her “Risuko?”
- Why is Risuko frightened of the old woman who comes looking for her in the woods?
- Who is this old woman and what does she want with Risuko?
- The old woman is traveling in a “palanquin”. What is a “palanquin?” You can use the dictionary.
Chapter 2—“Into the Circle” pp.11-16
- Why had Risuko’s mother sold her to Lady Chiyome?
- Risuko and her captor stop at an inn to give her new clothes and something to eat. There she meets three other children: Toumi, Aimaru, and Emi. What are your first impressions of each?
Chapter 3—Flying pp. 17-20
- Why does Risuko have such a violent reaction to Toumi?
- How does Risuko feel about her violent reaction?
- Who are the Little Brothers?
Chapter 4—“The Edge of the World” pp. 21-26
- What is the reason for Lady Chiyome’s party’s taking an alternative road?
- Who are the two opposing parties at war with each other?
Chapter 5—“The Mt. Fuji Inn” pp. 27-34
- How does Toumi once again anger Risuko?
- What skills does Lady Chiyome request Risuko to demonstrate?
- To what extent is Risuko able to display those skills successfully?
- What does Lady Chiyome ask Risuko to draw?
Chapter 6—“Tea and Cakes” pp.35-40
Describe the great battle that ensues and how the Little Brothers and Mieko save the day.
Chapter 7—“Wind” pp.41-44
- Why is Risuko disturbed to realize that they’d been saved by the Takeda cavalry?
- Who is the single casualty of the day?
- What hint do we get of Lady Chiyome’s plans for the three girls?
Chapter 8—“The Mountain” pp. 45-48
- Emi says about Mieke: “ I can’t decide if she’s really nice or kind of scary.” What impression do you have of Mieke?
- Risuko comes to learn from Lt. Masugo that Lady Chiyome’s intention is to train her to be a miko. What is a miko?
Chapter 9—“Worth” pp.49-52
- What special skill does Risuko exhibit to Lt. Masugu?
- What important information does Risuko learn about her father from Lt. Masugu?
Chapter 10—“Dark Letter” pp.53-60
- How do Risuko and Toumi happen to fall into the hands of bandits?
- How does Risuko succeed in warning the rest of the party about the bandits?
Chapter 11—“The Full Moon pp. 61-64
The party finally arrives at their destination, where Lady Chiyome puts the three young people in the care of Fuyudori. What is unusual about Fuyudori?
Chapter 12—“Novices” pp. 65-70
- What is a “novice”? Use dictionary.
- What is an “initiate?” Use dictionary.
- What does Fuyudori reveal to the girls about why they’ve been brought to Mochuzuki?
- What kind of work will the three novices be doing under Kee Sun?
Chapter 13—“A Banquet” pp.71-76
- What is your impression of Kee Sun? Why?
- Why is there an empty seat saved in the place of honor beside Mieko?
Chapter 14—“A Squirrel on the Roof” pp.77-80
- What is the meaning of the word “succulent”? Use dictionary.
- For what kind of lesson are the girls scheduled the following day?
Chapter 15—“The Music Lesson” pp.81-86
- Why does Toumi get bean curds instead of eggs for breakfast?
- What instruments do the girls start learning to play at the music lesson?
Chapter 16—“Blades” pp.87-90
- How come Emi, the slowest long bean chopper, ends up with the largest finished pile?
- What are some of the exercises and activities that begin to occupy the three novices’ days?
Chapter 17—“Moon Time at Mochuzuki” pp.91-96
- What is meant by “Moon Time”? How do the women of the court observe it?
- What particular incident brings Risuko to tears and how does Lt. Masugu go about comforting her?
Chapter 18—“A Fly” pp. 97-100
- For what reason does Fuyudori wake Risuko in the middle of the night?
- Why is the mission dangerous?
- What does Risuko overhear?
Chapter 19—“In the Web” pp. 101-106
- How does Lady Chiyome discern that Risuko is eavesdropping?
- Why does Lady Chiyome support the Takeda forces in her hope for a united Japan?
- What question does Lady Chiyome leave unanswered for Risuko to solve?
Chapter 20—“Smelly Work” pp. 107-112
- What smelly work do the three girls learn to perform?
- What enormous task does Kee Sun set before them?
Chapter 21—“Lessons in Dance” pp113-118
- In what ways does the dance Mieko teaches differ from other dances?
- What is Risuko’s reaction to this dance lesson?
Chapter 22—“Feather Soup” pp.119-122
- While the girls have been working in the kitchen, what kind of work has Aimaru been doing?
Chapter 23—“Poppies in Winter” pp. 123-128
What lessons in the use of herb did you find most interesting? Why?
Chapter 24—“Visitors” pp.129-134
- On her first climb up the hemlock tree after the long snow, what does Risuko spy from the top?
- How does Risuku manage to save Lt. Masugu’s life?
Chapter 25—“To Roost” pp. 135-140
- What new task does Lady Chiyome demand of the novices, and how does Risuko react to it?
- For what reason does a very angry Lady Chiyome assemble the entire group?
Chapter 26—“Climbing the Walls” pp. 141-144
- Trying to track down the source of a strange sound outside, whom does Risuko discover in conversation in the Retreat?
- How would you describe the conversation between the two?
- What herb does Risuko discover missing in the kitchen?
Chapter 27—“Poppies in Winter” pp. 144-148
- What does Risuko dream and what does she learn from it?
Chapter 28—“Broken Dishes” pp. 149-154
- What kind of harm has befallen Lt. Masugu?
- Whom does Lady Chiyome send to attend to him?
Chapter 29—“Proper Duty” pp. pp. 155-160
- What does Risuko discover about the relationship between Mieke and Lt. Masugu?
- Of what act do Mieke and Lady Chiyome suspect Risuko?
Chapter 30—“Battle of White and Scarlet” pp. 161-166
- What surprising object does Risuko discover in the guest house?
- How does Lady Chiyome deduce that Risuko was not the spy who’d been searching her rooms?
- What startling news about her father does Lady Chiyome reveal to Risuko?
Chapter 31—“Taking Up the Blade” pp.167-176
- Why does Risuko resist taking up the sword?
- Why do the sword positions in her first lesson come so naturally to Risuko?
Chapter 32—“Chicken Soup” pp.177-182
- On what new mission does Lt. Masugu send Risuko?
- What is the cause of the bitter undertaste in the chicken soup?
Chapter 33—“Smoke and Stone” pp.183-188
- What effect does the Corydalis have on everyone who ate the chicken soup?
- What does Risuko find hidden in the roof chimney?
Chapter 34—“Falling Fast” pp. 189-198
- Why has Fuyudori turned on Lady Chiyome and her people?
- What does Fuyudori reveal to Risuko about Lt. Masugu’s identity?
- How does Risuko escape Fuyudori’s vengeance?
Epilogue—“On the Ground”
- What does the prized scroll turn out to reveal to the four young people?