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Essay and Class-Discussion Prompts

NOTE: Obviously, the following essay/discussion prompts contain spoilers for the Seasons of the Sword books!

The following are possible essay or class-discussion prompts for the Seasons of the Sword novels  by David Kudler. We intended them for classes with students aged 11–15 (US grades 6–10). Each prompt includes two sub-prompts: one helps focus the students on literary or historical analysis; the other encourages personal exploration.

  1. Prompts for Risuko
  2. Prompts for Bright Eyes


  1. What is courage? By what standards would you consider a person courageous (choose one)?
    1. Using the standards you formulate, show how three characters in Risuko exhibit courage.
    2. Write about a time in your own life when you or someone you know succeeded or failed at being courageous.
  2. During the course of growing up, we come to learn many things we didn’t know about ourselves and people we know. (Choose one.)
    1. What does Risuko learn about herself and her family during her stay at Mochizuki?
    2. Write about some of the things you’ve discovered about yourself, about your family, or about your friends in the past year that you hadn’t known before.
  3. Events that happen in the past often color our actions in the present. Sometimes, even events we are told about that occurred before we were born can also shape our current behaviors (choose one)

    1. Choose one character in Risuko and show how past events play out in his or her current actions.
    2. Write about how something in the past that happened to you, or that someone told you about, influenced your present thoughts and actions.

Bright Eyes

  1. Throughout Bright Eyes, Risuko experiences fear as she encounters her many challenges, yet manages to move through that fear into action.
    1. Write about two or three of those instances when Risuko faced what frightened her.
    2. Write about a time in your own life when you were able to put your fear aside and do what you knew you had to do.
  2. Bright Eyes illustrates some of the distinguishing features of sixteenth-century samurai culture in Japan. What behaviors do they admire and what behaviors do they condemn?
    1. Write about some of those distinguishing features as illustrated in Bright Eyes.
    2. Write about why you would or would not have liked to have lived in that culture.
  3. The three young initiates (Risuko, Toumi, and Emi) are not always friendly to each other, but they do come through for each other when it counts.
    1. Write about how the three relate to each other throughout the book. Best friends or not?
    2. Write about a time when a friend came through for you, though you may not have expected it.
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Seasons of the Sword