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Teachers' notes

SELECT: A) Classroom Activities or B) Articles

A) CLASSROOM ACTIVITIES

B) ARTICLES (including Activities)

 

BILBY SECRETS - TEACHERS' NOTES
Edel Wignell
Australian Society of Authors Ltd ©

Edel Wignell, Bilby Secrets, ill. Mark Jackson, 'Nature Story Books', 2011, Walker Books Australia, ISBN: 978 1 9215 2932 0
See further Teachers' Notes: www.walkerbooks.com.au

PART 1: INTRODUCTION

The endangered Australian marsupial, the greater bilby (Macrotis lagotis) has captured the attention of many people in the last twenty years. Since the arrival of white settlers, its range has been severely reduced from about 70% of the mainland to scattered populations in remote areas.

The destruction of the bilby's habitat by the grazing of cattle and rabbits contributed to the bilby's decline and to the extinction of the lesser bilby (Macrostis leucura) which has not been seen since the 1930s. The greater bilby's survival is threatened by foxes, dingoes and feral cats.

Timing
Splendid efforts are being made to assist the bilby to survive and, twice-yearly, there is a special focus on the animal: Easter and National Bilby Day (the second Sunday in September).

Awards
The cleverly named annual Queensland Children's Choice Book Awards – BILBY (Books I Love Best Yearly) - draw attention to the endearing creature.

PART 2: ACTIVITIES

Activities related to bilbies are of interest to a wide age range in primary schools. Select from suggestions below to suit the level of your class.

1. Bilby habitat

Viewing a map of Australia, children can see how the bilby's habitat has been reduced since the arrival of white settlers - from about 70% of the mainland to scattered populations in deserts, spinifex plains and acacia shrublands in isolated and semi-arid areas: the Tanami Desert in the Northern Territory, south-western Queensland, the Great Sandy and Gibson Deserts and the Pilbara of Western Australia.

  • Children who have visited country areas may tell about seeing rabbits, especially in the evenings, and imagine – two hundred years ago - seeing bilbies instead!
  • Older children may research the arrival of rabbits in Australia in the mid-1800s, and discuss the rate at which rabbits can multiply.
  • They may research the Pilbara of Western Australia (the setting of Bilby Secrets) to discover the creatures that inhabit the area with the bilby today: olive python, golden orb-weaver spider, red kangaroo, yellow spotted monitor lizard, galahs, wedge-tailed eagles, ring-tailed dragon, termites, fox.

2. Bilbies underground

The dimensions of a bilby burrow are surprising. Children may imagine their classroom underground, and estimate how much space would be needed for a burrow.

  • The fact that the burrow spirals downwards to a depth of about two metres may be shown by drawing a diagram on a whiteboard, and by marking the 'surface of the ground' on the classroom wall.
  • Children may imagine and discuss the early life of a bilby, living in constant darkness in a burrow.
  • Discuss the ways in which the illustrator, Mark Jackson, overcame the problem of showing the bilbies in the underground darkness.

3. The senses

Bilbies have poor eyesight, but their senses of hearing and smell are acute. Discussion may be initiated on:

  • how this affects bilbies - their lifestyle and chances of survival
  • the senses in humans – how they differ from bilbies in this regard, and how the loss of one of the senses affects us
  • the senses of other creatures, including a comparison between the lifestyles of nocturnal and diurnal ones. (In pairs, older children may research a particular creature)

4. Creative activities

Recent years have seen the release of a rash of bilby books with bilbies on amazing and intriguing escapades: a bilby reaching for a star to give it a kiss, a pirate and a space adventure, a quest for the moon, bilbies living in a nursing home, fighting a bushfire, winning a competition…

  • Children may be introduced to one or two of these books, and discuss the adventures.
  • In pairs or threes, children may create a new, amazing adventure for a bilby, and describe it to the class. This can be followed by writing or art activities.
  • Taking the fantastic idea further, children may select any creature, put it into an unlikely location and weave a story around it: for example, a crocodile in the classroom, a penguin at a birthday party, a kangaroo at a football match… Creative activities, in pairs or groups may follow.

5. Enrichment

Several bilby books provide opportunities for teachers to introduce, not only the bilby in a surprising location, but other concepts as a follow-up to reading and discussion.

  • Kerry Kitzelman, Bilby and Friends, phot. Steve Parish (2009) Steve Parish Publishing (Steve Parish Kids) 978 1 74193 432 8
    A bilby is led to discover that the higher you rise, the more the horizon recedes. Children (especially those who live in high-rise buildings) will be able to give examples, and it may be possible to take the class on a planned excursion to illustrate the point. This could lead to discussion about the shape and size of the Earth.
  • Margaret Wild, The Bilbies of Bliss, ill. Noela Young (2005) ABC Books, 073 3 331569 0 (pbk) 0 7333 0768 X (hbk)
    This story is a modern fable, with animals and their behaviour being a metaphor for human activity.
  • Teachers could introduce the concept of the fable as one aspect of the oral tradition, and then the best-known, the fables of Aesop.
  • Other topics are: the aged and ageing, cooperation, kindness, assertiveness and dissent. One person can protest, and, working together, positive results can be achieved.
  • A wide age range can appreciate this story and older children may be able to suggest parallels of dissent and protest, cooperation and action in modern life.
  • Nette Hilton, The Smallest Bilby and the Easter Games, ill. Bruce Whatley (2008) Working Title Press, 978 1 876288 78 5
    Easter is approaching and the rabbits are tired of delivering Easter eggs. A competition is launched, and the rabbits choose the best animal to take over the job.
  • A perfect introduction to the idea that, here in Australia, the bilby rather than the rabbit is the perfect choice.
  • Nette Hilton, The Smallest Bilby and the Midnight Star, ill. Bruce Whatley (2006) Working Title Press, 978 1 876 28873 0
    When the smallest bilby is worried, the other animals care, and cooperate to help him.
  • Children can work in groups to create their own animal story in which a problem is solved by means of cooperation.
  • Drama may follow: performance, a radio play or readers' theatre.

6. Bilby Survival

The destruction of the bilby's habitat by the grazing of cattle and rabbits contributed to the bilby's decline and to the extinction of the lesser bilby (Macrostis leucura).

Today the survival of the greater bilby is threatened by foxes, dingoes and feral cats. Probably there are no more than 600 bilbies left in the wild.

Projects in several areas are dedicated to the survival of bilbies – see Part 3 of these notes.

  • In groups, older students may select and research these Survival Projects and present reports to the class using graphic methods, including posters, lists, diagrams...
  • Younger students may be introduced to one project, and examine it in detail.

PART 3: BILBY SURVIVAL PROJECTS

A huge amount of information about Survival Projects can be found on the Internet.

1. Save the Bilby Fund

The website, www.easterbilby.com.au is a joint initiative of the Save the Bilby Fund, the Queensland Park and Wildlife Service and chocolate manufacturer, Darrel Lea, which funds the website. They are working together to ensure that the bilby does not become extinct.

A non-profit service, the fund supports:

  • research into the biology and ecology of the species
  • research into population and distribution decline
  • efforts to address threats to bilby survival.

The Fund works towards re-establishing populations of bilbies in places within their former range, based on biological knowledge gained through research. The website's purpose is to inform about the bilby's plight and how ordinary people can make a difference.

The Save the Bilby Fund is managed by Ranger Frank Manthey of the Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service (QPWS) and Peter McRae, zoologist and scientist involved in bilby research.

2. 'The Bilby Fence': The Currawinya National Park Bilby Enclosure Project

www.easterbilby.com.au/save_bilby/fence.asp

The friendship of Peter McRae and Frank Manthey resulted in a project that has helped to save the endangered bilby. Together they worked to raise funds ($400,000) to build a two-metre-high fence, enclosing an area, 25 kilometres square, in the park (near Charleville) – a haven where bilbies can safely breed and live. Since 2003, Australian swimming legend, Dawn Fraser, and music legend, John Williamson, have actively supported the project.

Narelle Renn, Anything's possible!: the bilby fence and beyond (2003) The Save the Bilby Fund, 0 646 421 62 X
The Bilby Fence was a dream and, due to the generosity and hard work of many people, it is a 'dream-come-true'. Narelle Renn tells the story of the key players in the process, Frank Manthey - wildlife ranger, and Peter McRae - zoologist and scientist involved in bilby research.

School children, tourists, clubs and towns throughout Australia helped to raise the funds for the fence. Writer Pamela Rushby was one of the scriptwriters who worked on a documentary, Bilby Friends (Gulliver Media Australia Ltd, 2002, directed by Jim Stevens) which was screened on the ABC and overseas - winner of several international awards.

3. The Australian Bilby Appreciation Society, 2005

Bilby videos are available from the Save the Bilby Fund.
http://members.optusnet.com.au/bilbies/

4. Monarto Zoological Park, SA

www.monartozoo.com.au

In the 1930s the bilby became extinct in South Australia, but, since 1995, Monarto Zoological Park, in partnership with the Department of Environment and Heritage, has been breeding a captive population of bilbies and returning them to the wild. Efforts have been assisted by the Save the Bilby Foundation. The Zoo is dedicated to the conservation of several endangered species.

5. Save the Bilby, Year 5, Toowoomba

Details of specific fund-raising projects which have helped to save the bilby can be found on the Internet. Children may be interested in the following details:

BILBY SONG
Edel Wignell
Australian Society of Authors Ltd ©

(Sing to the tune of the 'Waltzing Matilda' chorus)

Long live the bilby,
Long live the bilby,
Bilby survival – survival we sing.
Secret in your burrow,
Sleeping through the long, hot day;
Long live the bilby, now hear the words ring.

Long live the bilby,
Long live the bilby,
Bilby survival – survival we sing.
Secret in your food quest,
Searching through the long, cool night;
Long live the bilby, now hear the words ring.

Long live the bilby,
Long live the bilby,
Bilby survival – survival we sing,
Escaping your predators:
Sliding snake and wily fox;
Long live the bilby, now hear the words ring.

Long live the bilby,
Long live the bilby,
Bilby survival – survival we sing.
Easter chocoholics - *
Bunny, No! Bilby, Yes!
Long live the bilby, now hear the words ring.

Australian Society of Authors Ltd ©

* Easter chocoholics will find bilbies in the Darrell Lea and Haighs chocolate selections.

The website, www.easterbilby.com.au is a joint initiative of the Save the Bilby Fund, the Queensland Park and Wildlife Service and chocolate manufacturer, Darrell Lea. www.savethebilbyfund.com

The Foundation for RFA (Rabbit Free Australia) functions in association with Haigh's Chocolates. www.rabbitfreeaustralia.org.au/easter_bilby_campaign.html

Permission is granted to teachers to download Bilby Song for classroom use only. Australian Society of Authors Ltd ©

 

 

LONG LIVE US!
illustrated by Peter Allert www.peterallert.com.au
A fractured folk tale for children, 7-10 years
Interactive Publications (IP Kidz), Brisbane
ISBN: 978 1 921479 46 5 Hb; 978 1 921869 07 5 ePub
Edel Wignell
Australian Society of Authors Ltd ©
www.peterallert.com.au
Book Orders | Watch the Trailer

Fractured folk tales are fun for everyone. Children who are familiar with folk tales can play with them in many ways, meanwhile learning in the curriculum areas of language and the creative arts. The following ideas are starting points, and children are likely to find their own tangents. Firstly, here are some definitions.

What are folk tales?

Folk tales are part of the oral tradition (myths, legends, folkore, folk tales, superstitions) handed down by word of mouth over the centuries. Traditionally, folk tales have been called fairy tales.

I am using the term folk tales because, for the last ten years, stories about fairies – tiny creatures with gauzy wings – have been popular, so the term fairy tales is confusing for children.

What are fractured folk tales?

A well-known folk tale is reshaped in any or all of the following ways:

  • by changing the point of view
  • by introducing characters from several tales
  • by playing with the title
  • by changing the setting – time and place
  • by speculating on what may have happened before or what may happen after the main episode.

1. Introducing folk tales

  • Before introducing Long Live Us!, discover what children know about folk tales. Some will suggest popular titles, such as 'The Three Bears', 'Little Red Riding Hood', 'Cinderella...'
  • Show several collections of folk tales and ask children to bring collections from home or the library, and discuss the fact that these stories are part of the oral tradition
  • Find and share the folk tales that have been fractured in Long Live Us!: 'The Three Billy-goats Gruff', 'Goldilocks and the Three Bears', 'The Three Little Pigs', 'The Frog Prince' and 'Jack and the Beanstalk'. Familiarity with the original stories enables children to appreciate the 'fracturing' process when they read Long Live Us!

2. Read and discuss Long Live Us!

  • Firstly, discuss Peter Allert's cover illustration. Children can suggest the name of the character and imagine what he is doing. They may try to fathom the meaning of the title.
  • Share the story, giving time for children to appreciate the details within the illustrations, especially the humorous aspects. They are likely to speculate on the clothing worn by the various characters as they appear. Why are they dressed in this way? They will discover the reason late in the story - a surprise.
  • Discuss the story: spontaneous first impressions, then turn the pages and appreciate the illustrations once more, heightened by knowledge of the ending.
  • How did Edel Wignell fracture the original folk tales? Discuss the choice of a 'baddie' as the main character, the inclusion of 'baddies' and 'goodies' from other folk tales and the theme of the story, which leads to...
  • Discussion of the title and its meaning.
  • Drama: see a script of Long Live Us!
  • Suggestions for art and craft activities will flow from the children. They can be involved in creating sets, murals, dioramas, collage, costumes and identifiers of all kinds for characters and settings.

3. Fractured folk tales

More than 150 fractured folk tales have been published in recent years, so you will find some in the library and children may bring some from home.

Find, read and discuss several tales. Children can identify ways in which the original folk tales have been fractured. Here are four examples:

a) Alternative viewpoint:
Richard Tulloch, Twisted Tales: six fairy tales turned inside out, ill. Terry Tenton, 2008, Random House, 978 1 74166 274 0 Pb
Cinderella, Little Red Riding Hood, Briar Rose/Sleeping Beauty, Rumpelstiltskin, Hansel and Gretel and Jack and the Beanstalk are told from an alternative viewpoint.

b) Change a word in a title:
Lauren Child, Who's Afraid of the Big Bad Book?, 2002, Hodder Headline, 0 340 80554 4 Pb
As Herb lies down, he hits his head on a book of fairy tales, and falls asleep. Soon he meets Goldilocks, Cinderella and other characters.

c) Change of setting to a different time and place:
Anthony Browne, Me and You, 2010, Doubleday, 978 0 38561489 4 Hb
A modern, prosperous family of three bears goes for a walk before lunch. At the same time, a girl from a poor part of the city becomes lost, and enters their house.

d) Expand the story:
Anthony Browne, Into the Forest, 2004, Walker Books, 09 7445 9797 8 Pb
A boy is sent to deliver a cake to his Grandmother's house. He is told not to go through the forest, but he does. Soon he meets folk tale characters who want the cake...

4. Children create a fractured folk tale

Fractured folk tales are fun for children to attempt.

  • They may like to begin by writing a tale from the viewpoint of a 'baddie', such as a witch or a wolf.
  • They can select their favourite folk tale and think of ways to fracture it. They may discuss, sharing in pairs or with the class.
  • To assist, a list of the ways to fracture a folk tale may be pinned up, or written on the whiteboard (see definitions at the beginning of these Notes).
  • Children can write their tales. As they love joining in, saying, 'Little Pig, Little Pig, let me come in,' and other repeated phrases in folk tales, encourage them to create choruses, chants and songs to add to the pleasure of dramatic expression for both the storytellers and the audience.
  • Children may illustrate their tales.
  • The tales may be compiled into a collection. Discuss a title and design a cover.
  • Some fractured folk tales may be selected for drama, a group presenting their story as mime, shared reading, radio drama or acting.
  • Enrichment activities in art and craft may follow. The theme of Fractured Folk Tales would be suitable for a School Open Day when visitors can appreciate the children's creativity in various areas of the curriculum.

Colouring-in Pages for Long Live Us!

Teachers may copy three Colouring-in Pages for classroom use only. Copyright Peter Allert ©

THE SONG OF THE TROLL

Dr Stephen Whiteside © and Edel Wignell
Australian Society of Authors Ltd ©

(Sing to the tune of 'She'll be coming round the mountain…')

This song may be printed for classroom use only, and must include copyright acknowledgments.

He'll be sneaking from his cavern when he comes.
He'll be sneaking from his cavern when he comes.
He'll be sneaking from his cavern,
He'll be sneaking from his cavern,
He'll be sneaking from his cavern when he comes.

Singing hi yi yippee yippee yi.
Singing hi yi yippee yippee yi.
Singing hi yi yippee,
Singing hi yi yippee,
Singing hi yi yippee yippee yi.

He'll have Goldilocks for breakfast when he comes.
He'll have Goldilocks for breakfast when he comes.
He'll have Goldilocks for breakfast,
He'll have Goldilocks for breakfast,
He'll have Goldilocks for breakfast when he comes.

Singing hi yi yippee…

He will eat the pig for dinner when he comes.
The third little pig for dinner when he comes.
He will eat the pig for dinner,
He will eat the pig for dinner,
He will eat the pig for dinner when he comes.

Singing hi yi yippee…

He will eat the prince for supper when he comes.
The princess, too, for supper when he comes.
He will eat the prince and princess,
He will eat the prince and princess,
He will eat the prince and princess when he comes.

Singing hi yi yippee…

Song sung at the launch of Long Live Us! by Year 3 students, Rowville Primary School, 8 March 2011. Book launched by Dr Stephen Whiteside (Performance Poet and GP).
Edel Wignell, Long Live Us!, illus. Peter Allert, (2011, Interactive Publications)
ISBN: 978 1 9214794 6 5 (Hb); 978 1 9218690 7 5 (ePub)
Trailer: http://ipoz.biz/Titles/LLU.htm Book orders: http://ipoz.biz/Store/Orders.htm

 

CHRISTINA'S MATILDA
An historical picture-story for young people aged 10-16 years
illustrated by Elizabeth Botté www.illos.net
2011, Interactive Publications (IP Kidz)
ISBN 978 1 92147 987 8 (Hbk); 978 1 92147 9885 (ePub)
Edel Wignell
Australian Society of Authors Ltd ©
Book Orders | Watch the Trailer

Edel with friends at the launch of Christina's

Year 6, Christ Church Grammar School, South Yarra, singing 'Waltzing Matilda' at the launch of Christina's Matilda, 29 March 2011

1. When you were a kid - recollections

There is no doubt that Christina Macpherson's parents and family would have told her about the family's involvement in the bushranger event - the siege by Dan Morgan - when she was a baby. Probably she told the story to her friends at school.

  • Students could imagine the differing accounts told by her older sister Annie (19 years) and her brothers Gideon (17) and Angus (nearly 14), and the nursemaid Alice Keenan. After discussing in pairs or threes, they could present the recollections as dramatic monologues, using the voices, the language and the manners appropriate to the particular character.
  • Students may tell or write about an incident in their own childhood, based on their earliest memories. They could discuss with parents, older siblings and grandparents and discover that details may be enriched. Perhaps they will discover contradictions, disagreements and exaggerations. Students' reports may include comments, such as: 'Dad says, Grandpa has false memories,' or 'Nanna is a drama queen – you can't believe everything she says!'

2. Illustrations

When Elizabeth Botté was commissioned to illustrate Christina's Matilda, she used several devices to indicate the historical setting of the book, capture the atmosphere and bring the 19th century to life. Students may suggest these, and comment on the following:

  • Photography - portraits of individuals and groups.
  • Presentation of historical documents.
  • Page borders with appropriate symbols - domesticity for indoor scenes, and flora, fauna and farming for outdoors.

Elizabeth Botté: www.illos.net

3. Class consciousness

Christina's Matilda can be a starting point for the study and discussion of class, both in Australia and overseas.

  • Students may discuss the arrival in Australia of the first European settlers and the 'straitjacket' of class in the 18th and 19th centuries, then move to observations of the present day when there is less focus on it.
  • Students whose parents are immigrants, especially those from Asia, may contribute by explaining the particular forms of class consciousness still existing, such as the caste system in India, and how this affects people's lives.
  • Enrichment: an excellent novel to read and discuss is Jackie French's A Waltz for Matilda (2010, Angus & Robertson, Sydney) set in 1894. Matilda, aged 12, sets out from the city slums to find her father, a leader in the union movement and in conflict with landowners and troopers.

4. The Clans have huge international networks, so news of the publication of Christina's Matilda spread rapidly via the Internet. Availability

9. Cemeteries

Cemeteries, in both country towns and the city, are fascinating places to visit. Christina Macpherson's grave can be found in the St Kilda Cemetery (inner-suburban Melbourne).

  • An excursion to a cemetery can be an enlightening experience, but research is needed. A group of students may prepare for a class visit to a local cemetery, obtaining background information and a map.
  • Students may discuss the highlights, then engage in art activities or creative writing.

10. Bushrangers

The bushranger Dan Morgan was one of several Australian bushrangers who became famous. The opening pages of Christina's Matilda outline the last segment of his life. Students who are interested in the bushranger phenomenon may enjoy further study and activity to:

  • research Dan Morgan's life
  • research the lives of other bushrangers and the reasons why they embarked on lives of crime
  • gather the information into a book, with an appropriate cover and Table of Contents
  • debate the fairness or unfairness of the treatment of bushrangers by police and courts of law.

Controversy – origin of the 'Waltzing Matilda' tune

Mendelsohn, Oscar, A Waltz with Matilda: On the Trail of a Song, 1966, Lansdowne Press, Melbourne
Mendelsohn, Oscar, 'Waltzing Matilda Again', 1970, in Meanjin Quarterly, Vol. 29 (3), pp. 377-379
Mendelsohn, Oscar, 'Matilda Waltzes Again', 1971, in Meanjin Quarterly, Vol. 30 (4), pp. 478-483
Pearce, Harry H, On the Origins of Waltzing Matilda (Expression, Lyric, Melody), 1971, Hawthorn Press, Melbourne
Pearce, Harry H, The Waltzing Matilda Debate: Replies to Criticism, New Verification on the Bold Fusilier, Josephine Pene, etc, 1974, Rams Skull Press, Kuranda

References

Forrest, Peter & Sheila, Vision Splendid: A History of the Winton District, Western Queensland, 2005, Winton Shire Council and Winton District Historical Society & Museum

Forrest, Peter & Sheila, Banjo & Christina: the true story of 'Waltzing Matilda', 2008, Shady Tree, Darwin

Magoffin, Richard, Fair Dinkum Matilda, 1973, and Waltzing Matilda: Song of Australia, 1983, both Mimosa Press, Charters Towers

Magoffin, Richard, Waltzing Matilda: Ballad of the Fair Go: Commemorating our Song's 110th Anniversary, 1995, Pictorial Press Australia, Corinda

May, Sydney, The Story of Waltzing Matilda, 1944, W R Smith & Patterson, Brisbane

O'Keefe, Dennis, The Creation of Waltzing Matilda, (unpublished)

www.heraldsun.com.au/news/victoria/banjo-a-love-cad-and-rotter/story (14 June 2008)

Parker, Godfrey (Thomas Edward Bulch), 'March Craigielee' - arrangement of Scottish folk song, 'Thou Bonnie Wood o' Craigielee' - played for the first time in Australia at the Warrnambool Races on 24 April, 1894, in Magoffin, Richard, Waltzing Matilda: Song of Australia

Ross, Lance, 'Banjo' Paterson's Waltzing Matilda, 2010, self-published, Melbourne (first published, 2005, The Five Mile Press, Melbourne)

Song Book Board of Sydney and Melbourne Universities, The Australasian Students' Song Book, 1911, George Robertson, Melbourne

Edel Wignell, A Bluey of Swaggies (comp.), Edward Arnold, 1985, Melbourne

Wood, Thomas, Cobbers, 1934, Oxford University Press

TRICKING THE TIGER: PLAYS BASED ON ASIAN FOLK TALES
2002, Phoenix Education, ISBN 9 781876 580322
for ages 10-14 years www.phoenixeduc.com
Edel Wignell
Australian Society of Authors Ltd ©

Tricking the Tiger: Plays Based on Asian Folk Tales

A ghostly trickster, winning a princess, the exploits of a thief, brothers sharing an inheritance, a seductive portrait... and more. These folk tales are from Papua New Guinea, Korea, Pakistan, India, Bangladesh, Vietnam, Japan and Indonesia.

Activities from the Teacher Resource Book

The scripts include performance plays, suitable for the classroom or stage, readers' theatre and radio plays. The resource book includes background notes on the folk tales, practical ideas for drama in the classroom, a wide range of activities for enrichment and to encourage language development and creativity, and photocopiable worksheets for student s. Below are some examples of activities.

1. 'The Clever Thief' (Korea)

Students may suggest parallels of hypocrisy in modern life - in government, religion and business. These examples may be developed into short skits for rolé play.

TRICKING THE TIGER: TEACHER RESOURCE BOOK2. 'Tricking the Tiger' (Pakistan)

Students could imagine and discuss:

  • how the story evolved
  • how both adults and children responded to hearing it
  • People feeling threatened by danger have always created stories; for example:
    • in the distant past, 'slaying the dragon' tales
    • in the late 20th century, 'star wars' films
  • In what ways do 'tall tale' stories like this benefit a community?

3. 'Son and Ghost' (India)

In many countries, the strong distinction between the classes has been overcome by means of revolution and education, but it has not disappeared altogether.
Students could debate: 'There is no class system in Australia.'

4. 'Winning the Princess' (Vietnam)

A group - perhaps working in pairs or threes - could create myth-like stories to explain some aspect of the weather in their own location. They may share these, either by telling or by creating cartoons.

ARTICLES

A BILBY ROUND-UP: BOOKS AND RESOURCES
Edel Wignell
Australian Society of Authors Ltd ©

Introduction

Recent years have seen the release of a rash of bilby books with bilbies on amazing and intriguing escapades: a bilby reaching for a star to give it a kiss, a pirate and a space adventure, a quest for the moon, bilbies in a nursing home, fighting a bushfire, winning a competition...
The following list rounds up recent bilby books – non-fiction, fiction, poetry, activity books and audio-visual resources.

The endangered Australian marsupial bilby (Macrotis lagotis) has captured the attention of many people in the last twenty years. Since the arrival of white settlers its range has been severely reduced from about 70% of the mainland to scattered populations in deserts, spinifex plains and acacia shrublands in isolated and semi-arid areas: the Tanami Desert in the Northern Territory, south-western Queensland, the Great Sandy and Gibson Deserts and the Pilbara of Western Australia.

The destruction of the bilby's habit by the grazing of cattle and rabbits contributed to the bilby's decline and to the extinction of the lesser bilby (Macrostis leucura). The greater bilby's survival is threatened by foxes, dingoes and feral cats.

Splendid efforts are being made to assist the bilby to survive (see Bilby Secrets)

Non-fiction

Anything's possible! the bilby fence and beyond (2003) Narelle Renn, The Save the Bilby Fund, ISBN 0 646 421 62 X
The Bilby Fence was a dream and, due to the generosity and hard work of many people, it is a 'dream-come-true'. Narelle Renn tells the story of the key players in the process, Frank Manthey - wildlife ranger, and Peter McRae - zoologist and scientist involved in bilby research.

Baby Bilby, Where do you Sleep? (2001) Narelle Oliver, Lothian Books, ISBN 0 7344 0602 9
On a hot day in the desert, there seems to be no life. However, many animals, including the bilby, live there in secret refuges. An introduction to nocturnal animals: bilby, striped gecko, hopping mouse, tree creeper, desert planigale and gibber dragon. 'Peepholes' allow children to discover surprises.

Bandicoots & Bilbies of Australia (1993) Eleanor Stoddart, Bimberi Books, ISBN 0646 1 3816 2
Detailed information on bilbies – their appearance, lifestyle and habitat.

Bilbies (1999) Ann Thomas, Macmillan Education ('Young Library'), ISBN 073 2 94857 6
Detailed information on bilbies – their appearance, lifestyle and habitat.

Bilby (1996) Pauline Reilly, ill. Will Rolland, Kangaroo Press, ISBN 978 0 86417 785 8
revised and reprinted: Macrostis the Easter Bilby (2004) Pauline Reilly, ill. Kayelene Traynor, Bristlebird Books, ISBN 978 0957 789 3
A detailed narrative about the life cycle, lifestyle and environment of a bilby.

Bilby and Friends (2009) Kerry Kitzelman, phot. Steve Parish, Steve Parish Publishing ('Steve Parish Kids'), ISBN 978 1 74193 432 8
Bilby is concerned about the horizon – where the world seems to end. Then he discovers, from his taller and tree-climbing friends, that the higher you rise, the more the horizon recedes. (Sales of this book benefit the Save the Bilby Foundation.)

Bilby Friends (2007) Pamela Rushby, Harcourt Education ('Rigby Blue Prints'), ISBN 978 0 7312 7372 0
The story of two friends, Frank Manthey and Peter McRae, and their project: to build a fence to enclose an area, 25 kilometres square, where bilbies could breed and live safely. Pamela Rushby was one of the scriptwriters on the documentary, Bilby Brothers, and some of her photographs and several stills from the documentary are included in the book.

Bilby's Big Ears (2008) Catherine Prentice, phot. Steve Parish, Steve Parish Publishing, ('Bedtime read-along Story Books'), ISBN 978 174 193481 (pbk)
Repetition of sounds and actions encourage children to join in and read the simple storyline.

Bilby's Burrow (2003) Rebecca Johnson, phot. Steve Parish, Steve Parish Publishing, ISBN 174 0 21277 0
A little bilby escapes from a dingo, gets lost and finds her way back to her burrow.

Bilby Secrets (2011) Edel Wignell, ill. Mark Jackson, Walker Books Australia ('Nature Story Books'), ISBN 978 1 9215 2932 0
The endangered marsupial, Little Bilby is born in a burrow in the spinifex of the Pilbara in Western Australia. He sleeps safely in his mother's pouch until he has grown large enough to explore the burrow – two metres underground. Soon he grows up and accompanies his mother on foraging trips, learning about predators and how to avoid danger. At last he grows up.

Fiction

The Bilbies of Bliss (2005) Margaret Wild, ill. Noela Young, ABC Books, ISBN 073 3 331569 0 (pbk); ISBN 0 7333 0768 X (hbk)
Biba moves into 'Bliss', a Home for Old Bilbies, and finds comfort and companionship. But the unkind Matron's strict rules intimidate everyone. When Nina arrives, she defies the matron and, gradually, all rebel and insist on changes to make Bliss the happy place they want it to be.

The Bilbies' First Easter (1994) Irena Sibley, Aird Books, 187 5 84312 4 (pbk), ISBN 187 5 84311 6
On a farm, baked dry with drought, William - with the help of the bilbies – makes a magical Easter surprise for his family by leaving eggs out for the bilbies to paint. Then it rains, refreshing the land and lifting the spirits of the farmers.

Bilby and the Bush Fire (2007) Joanne Crawford, ill. Grace Fielding, Magabala Books, ISBN 978 1 921 24830 6
Bilby, Kangaroo, Emu, Platypus,Wombat and Koala face the immediate dangers of a bushfire and its aftermath. Traditional dot art combines with contemporary images. Grace Fielding won the WA Premier's Award and the NAIDOC Award for Artist of the Year, 2008.

The Bilby and the Bunyip: an Easter Tale (1998) Irena Sibley, Lothian Books, ISBN 085 0 918960 (hbk); ISBN 085 0 919304 (pbk)
A mean and grumpy Bunyip becomes friendly – even generous – when she helps the bilbies open their pots of colour. A sequel to The Bilbies' First Easter.

Bilby Moon (2000) Margaret Spurling, ill. Danny Snell, Omnibus, ISBN 1 876 288 18 3 (hbk); ISBN 978 1 876288 29 7 (pbk);
Each night when Little Bilby leaves her burrow, she looks up to greet the moon, and the moon looks down and smiles. Then, one night, she is dismayed, for the moon has begun to wane. She sets out to consult the other desert dwellers – Hopping Mouse, Sand Dragon, Marsupial Mole, Echidna and Chirping Froglet. Finally she meets Wise Boobook Owl who tells her about the cycles of the moon and reassures her that the moon will return. CBC Notable Book, 2001.

Bud's Pirate Adventure (2006), Odette Ross, Puffin Baby, ISBN 978 0 14 350163 3 (hbk); ISBN 014 3 50163 1 (pbk); Bud's Space Adventure (2006) Odette Ross, Puffin Baby, ISBN 978 0 14 350151 0 (hbk); ISBN 0 14 3501518 (pbk);
The adventures of Bud, a cute little bilby: fantasy and fun in short simple sentences and digital illustrations in bold colours - for ages 2+.
Bud finds a treasure map, sets off sailing and encounters a crocodile which chases him.
When Bud Bilby's space ship is stolen by an alien, a passing Martian gives him a lift home.

Easter Bilby (1994) Ali Garnett, ill. Kaye Kessing, Anti-rabbit Research Foundation of Australia (available from the Save the Bilby Fund), ISBN 0 646 46410 8
A wise old Rabbit is tired, so he decides whether to hand over his job to his grandson or to Bilby. A competition is organized to see which can deliver the eggs fastest.

Easter Bilby's Secret (1999) Ali Garnett, ill. Kay Kessing, Kay Kessing Productions, with support from Department of Environment & Heritage, Alice Springs, NT, ISBN 0 646 36746 3
Tired old Easter Bunny has given his job to Bilby. Easter eggs must be delivered around Australia on time. The rabbits will no longer help. Hungry cats and foxes roam the land, looking for food. How will Easter Bilby and his friends get the job done?

Grandma Bilby, Mr Budge and the Easter Tree (2000) Irena Sibley, Lothian Books, ISBN 978 0 73440 089 5
It's time to deliver the Easter eggs, and Grandma Bilby gets some unexpected help from the possums in the park. Mr Budge, the hamburger man, joins in, and soon the whole town is celebrating.

Hunwick's Egg (2005) Mem Fox, ill. Pamela Lofts, Viking, ISBN 978 0 670 04230 2
Hunwick, an old bilby, lives a solitary life on the edge of the desert. After a storm, he discovers something which he thinks is an egg, and cares for it.

A Home for Bilby (2004) Joanne Crawford, ill. Grace Fielding, Magabala Books, ISBN 978 1 875 64 191 8
In search of a home, Bilby comes to a place full of animals – Kangaroo, Emu, Platypus, Wombat and Koala – who help him to find the perfect place

Melly and the Bilby (2006) Susan-Zela Bisset and Stephen Hagan, Ngalga Warralu Publishing, ISBN 101 921212 06 3 (part of the Save the Bilby Fund Easter Bilby Action Pack)
When Melly's cat, Jason, brings home a tiny grey animal, she thinks it's a mouse. But Auntie Ruby declares that it's a bilby. Fortunately it's still alive, so she and Melly nurse it back to health.

Show & Tell (2003) Bruce Dawe, Puffin ('Aussie Nibbles'), ISBN 0 14 330 029 6
Tommy and Trish and their school mates find six escaped bilbies – the Bilby Six – by learning about their habits and personalities.

The Smallest Bilby and the Midnight Star (2006) Nette Hilton, ill. Bruce Whatley, Working Title Press, ISBN 978 1 876 28873 0
The smallest bilby watches the night sky every night because he loves the stars. Best of all is the smallest – far, far away. When she is covered by a cloud, he worries that he will lose her, so the other bilbies help him to build a stairway to the stars.

The Smallest Bilby and the Easter Games (2008) Nette Hilton, ill. Bruce Whatley, Working Title Press, ISBN 978 1 876288 78 5
Easter is approaching and the rabbits are tired of delivering Easter eggs. A competition is launched, and the rabbits choose the best animal to take over the job.

Poetry

Bill Bilby and Friends (1997) Roger Tulloch, ill. Rory Stapleton, Axiom, ISBN 0 947 33886 1 (hbk); ISBN 0 947 33860 8 (pbk)
A collection of humorous and engaging nonsense verse about Australian animals - with appropriate illustrations.

Miss Bilby (2007) Colin Thiele, ill. Mavis Stucci, Crawford House, ISBN 978 1 86333 321 4
A story about bilbies, their predators, the hazards of bushfire, land degradation and introduced animals, and the efforts of humans to protect them – told in verse.

The Mystery of the Missing Bilbies (1994) Simon McLean (from an original storyline by Carolina Haggstrom McLean), Steve Parish Publishing, ISBN 094 7 26370 5
A story in verse, set in the outback: Albert, the Koala, and Gus, the Goanna, help Bizzy Bilby to find his relations. On their travels, they meet many animals and, at last, a great crowd of bilbies.

Activity Books and Resources

Easter Bilby (2004) Margaret Clough and Lynne Dent, RIC Publications, 978 1 66311 450 9
These Blackline Masters for ages 6-12 years include: basic facts about the bilby, and activities across the curriculum areas of language, mathematics, environmental education, art, craft, drama and music.

Billy Bilby and Friends Activity Book (2007) Nette Hilton, ill. Bruce Whatley, Working Title Press, ISBN 978 1 876288 82 2
Indoor fun activities, including the creation of a mobile, bilby ears, Easter basket, door hanger, and matching footprints; colouring-in and word search; how to draw a bilby and a koala.

Billy Bilby and Friends: Colour-in Fun (2008) Nette Hilton, ill. Bruce Whatley, Working Title Press, ISBN 978 1 876288 89 1 (pbk)
Children can colour in and create, join the dots, use numbers to colour Billy Bilby's bush friends, unscramble letters and match pairs.

Easter Bilby Action Pack (1995) Ali Garnett, ill. Kaye Kessing, Anti-rabbit Research Foundation of Australia, available from the Save the Bilby Fund
Includes the following titles: Easter Bilby, Easter Bilby's Secret, Bilby Moon and Melly and the Bilby.
www.easterbilby.com.au/save_bilby/merhcandise.pdf

Audio-visual Resources

Australian Deserts: Flora and Fauna, MW Macroworks® Education Software,
Australian Eco Series Curriculum Resource. www.macroworks.com.au

Bilby Friends (2002) Gulliver Media Australia Ltd - documentary directed by Jim Stevens.

Bilby Brothers: the men who killed the Easter bunny (2002) – video-recording.

Periodical

The Bilby Bulletin (July 1995-) ('Earthkids Newsletter) Earthkids, Fitzroy
A quarterly newsletter devoted to nature and conservation.

 

HOW TO FRACTURE FOLK TALES
Assisting children to write their own tales (ages 7-10 years)
Edel Wignell
Australian Society of Authors Ltd ©

(Acknowledgment: The following article was first published in Class Ideas K-3, RIC Publications.)

A. INTRODUCTION

It's surprising to note that more than 150 fractured folk tales (or fractured fairy tales) have been published in recent years. Not only are they enjoyable for writers to create, they are fun for children to read and dramatize and attempt to write their own.

(I am using the term 'folk tales' in preference to 'fairytales' as tales about fairies have been popular in recent times, and children think that the term applies to stories about winged creatures. Folk tales, being part of the oral tradition (myths, legends, folkore, superstitions), have been handed down by word of mouth over the centuries.

Folk tale structure
The pattern or structure of British and European folk tales – honed by storytellers - is satisfying for listeners.

  • They include several 'good' characters (usually three) and one 'baddie', providing conflict.
  • There is a problem to solve, and good triumphs over evil.
  • A sequence of (usually) three events leads to a climax and a fast resolution. (However, some are more complex.)

Children who have heard and read many folk tales in Lower Primary know this structure (though they may not be able to analyze it) and are able to use it as they create their own stories.

What are fractured folk tales?
These tales take a well-known story and reshape it by any or all of the following means:

  • changing the point of view
  • introducing characters from several tales
  • playing with the title
  • changing the setting – time and place
  • speculating on what may have happened before or what may happen after.

B. CHILDREN WRITE THEIR OWN FRACTURED FOLK TALES

Familiarity with folk tales makes children's creative efforts satisfying. Notes on ways in which the tales can be fractured follow, with examples of published tales that may be found in libraries.

A. Familiarity
For enjoyment of fractured folk tales, children need to be familiar with the originals, so the first step is hearing them. During the early years many children have had opportunities to hear and read the popular western tales, on which most of the published fractured tales have been based. They are able to appreciate the writers' skill and are ready to experiment with the fracturing process.

B. Beginning

  • Children can suggest the titles of the folk tales that they know and, in groups, revisit them for familiarity with their details.
  • Select several published fractured tales for reading, and discuss the changes that have been made to them (see examples below).
  • In pairs or threes, children may choose any character in a folk tale and re-tell it from that character's viewpoint.

C. Ways in which folk tales can be fractured

1. Viewpoint of the 'baddie'

Some of the most popular stories have been told from the point of view of the 'baddie'. In folk tales, wolves are usually bad and witches are ugly. But when the baddies are the narrators, the stories are delightfully different from the originals!

  • Richard Tulloch (2008), Twisted Tales: six fairy tales turned inside out, ill. Terry Tenton, Random House, 978 1 74166 274 0 Pb
    Cinderella, Little Red Riding Hood, Briar Rose/Sleeping Beauty, Rumpelstiltskin, Hansel and Gretel and Jack and the Beanstalk are told from an alternative viewpoint.
  • Edel Wignell (2011) Long Live Us!, ill. Peter Allert, IP Kidz, 978 1 921479 46 5, Hb; 978 1 921869 07 5 ePub
    The Greedy Troll (from the folk tale, 'The Three Billy-goats Gruff') lives under the bridge. Hungry, he hatches a plan to trap the Goodies and the Baddies from four folk tales, as they pass over the bridge.
  • A. Wolf (as told to Jon Scieszka) (1989) The True Story of the Three Little Pigs, ill. Lane Smith, Viking, 978 0 14 054451 0 Pb
    The hero is a timid wolf who wants to borrow a cup of sugar to make a birthday cake for his granny. Unfortunately he sneezes, blowing down the houses of the Little Pigs.
  • Toby Forward (2005) The Wolf's Story, ill. Izhar Cohen, Walker Books, 978 1 403 0162 5 Pb
    The Wolf argues that the whole episode was a series of accidents and he was found guilty on circumstantial evidence. From the pages of the book, the wolf stares at the reader, and invites, for example, 'Would you like to come and sit a bit closer while I tell you about the kid?'

2. Viewpoint of another character.

  • Emily Gravett (2008) Spells, Macmillan, 978 0 23001492 3 Hb; 978 0 23053136 9 Pb
    A frog finds an old book of spells and has an idea: he could become a prince!
  • Mini Grey (2003) The Pea and the Princess, Red Fox, 978 0 09 943233 3 Pb
    A modern version of the tale, told from the point of view of the pea.

3. Change of character or characters

  • Babette Cole (1987) Prince Cinders, 978 0 14 055525 7 Pb
    Prince Cinders takes the Cinderella role, and his three burly brothers are the wicked siblings!
  • Eugene Trivizas (1993) The Three Little Wolves and the Big Bad Pig, ill. Helen Oxenbury, Egmont Books, 978 1 40530945 8 Pb
    Both the characters and the background are changed so that the dwellings are a concrete house, a concrete bunker and a flower-power bower!
  • Raymond Briggs (1970) Jim and the Beanstalk, Hamish Hamilton, Puffin, 0 14 050077 4 Pb
    When Jim climbs the enormous beanstalk growing beside his bedroom window, he discovers a very old giant needing help, so he provides false teeth, glasses, a wig...

4. Play with a title or change a word in a title

A title change can be a springboard to a new story.

  • Lauren Child (2002) Who's Afraid of the Big Bad Book? Hodder Headline, 0 340 80554 4 Pb
    As Herb lies down, he hits his head on a book of fairy tales, and falls asleep. Soon he meets Goldilocks, Cinderella and other characters.
  • Dianne Bates (2001) Cinderfella, ill. Peter Viska, Puffin Books (Aussie Nibbles), 978 0 14131265 1 OP
    Cinderfella is the brother of Burnt and Crisp. They win a trip to the fun capital of Uranus, and he is left behind. Then his hairy Dogfather transports him to Earth where he meets Princess Esmerelda, and falls in love.

5. Change the setting to a different time or place

  • Shirley Hughes (2003) Ella's Big Chance, Red Fox, 978 0 09 943309 5 Pb
    Set in the 1920s in a fashionable family, this version has a horrid stepmother, bullying step-sisters and a delightful ending without a prince!
  • Bob Graham (2006) Dimpty Dumpty, Walker Books, 978 1 40631901 9 Pb
    In this version of the 'Humpty Dumpty' nursery rhyme, background characters rise to the occasion and share the limelight at the appropriate moment.
  • Anthony Browne (2010) Me and You, Doubleday, 978 0 38561489 4 Hb
    A modern, prosperous family of three bears goes for a walk before lunch. At the same time, a girl from a poor part of the city becomes lost, and enters their house.
  • Sharon and Dean Hale (2008) Rapunzel's Revenge, ill. Nathan Hale, Bloomsbury, 978 0 7475 8743 9 Hb
    In an American Wild West setting, Rapunzel is imprisoned in a tree in a large forest and rescued by rogue Jack. She becomes his partner-in-crime, the charges being horse thieving, kidnapping, jail breaking… and more!

6. Expand the story

Characters from one folk tale may interact with those of another. Start with simple tales and few characters. Children who enjoy creating stories and are ready for complications will see the possibilities. Plots of tales may be completely changed, and may include many surprises.

  • Allan Ahlberg (2007) Previously, ill. Bruce Ingman, Walker Books, 978 1 84428 062 9 Hb; 978 1 4063 1350 5 Pb
    What were the characters in familiar folk tales and nursery rhymes doing before their well-known adventures began?
  • Hilary Robinson (2004) Mixed Up Fairy Tales, ill. Nick Sharratt, Hodder Children's Books, 978 0 340 97558 2 Hb
    Twelve fairy tales are told briefly, with cartoon-style illustrations on the opposite pages. Each is cut into four parallel sections so that the reader can mix and match to create zany variations.
  • Ben Brown (2008) The Apple, ill. Tracy Duncan, Puffin, NZ, 978 0 14350 2920 Pb
    On the way to visit her granny, a little girl in a hooded red coat, picks up a golden apple. First she meets a wolf who takes the apple, and then other folk tale characters become involved.
  • Mini Grey (2006) The Adventures of the Dish and the Spoon, Red Fox, 978 0 09 9475767 Pb
    The nursery rhyme is expanded to include what happened next in the story of two lovers who ran away.
  • Allan Ahlberg (1977) Jeremiah in the Dark Wood, ill. Janet Ahlberg, Kestrel/Puffin, 0 14 038683 1 Pb
    A plate of jam tarts cooling on a window-sill goes missing, and Jeremiah Obadiah Jackanory James sets off to find the robber. On his quest he encounters a wolf, three bears, a frog prince... and more.
  • Anthony Browne (2004) Into the Forest, Walker Books, 09 7445 9797 8 Pb
    A boy is sent to deliver a cake to his Grandmother's house. He is told not to go through the forest, but he does. Soon he meets folk tale characters who want the cake...

C. CREATIVE ACTIVITIES LINKED

Fracturing folk tales provides an excellent opportunity for creativity in many curriculum areas.

  • Discussion, sharing and writing can lead to drama – a group presenting their story as mime, shared reading, radio drama or acting.
  • As children love to join in, saying, 'Little Pig, Little Pig, let me come in,' and other repeated phrases in folk tales, they can be encouraged to create choruses, chants and songs to add to the pleasure of dramatic expression for both participants and audience.
  • Suggestions for art and craft activities flow rapidly when children are involved in creating fractured folk tales for drama: sets, murals, dioramas, collage, costumes and identifiers of all kinds for characters and settings.

Reference

Internet Database: The Source: Magpie's online subject guide to children's literature, compiled by Dr Kerry White, with Rayma Turton and David Turton, is an excellent resource for teachers. www.mapgies.net.au

CHRISTINA'S MATILDA – A WALTZ OF DISCOVERY

Edel Wignell
Australian Society of Authors Ltd ©

An abridged version of this article was first published in Viewpoint: on books for young adults, Vol. 19, No. 1, Autumn 2011 (Melbourne Graduate School of Education, University of Melbourne)

Download the article

Christina's Matilda at the Ringwood Highland Games

Edel Wignell with David Macpherson at the Clan Macpherson tent, Ringwood Highland Games

Edel Wignell with David Macpherson at the Clan Macpherson tent, Ringwood Highland Games, 10 April 2011.

On 29 March, 2011, Minister for the Arts and Premier of Victoria, Hon Ted Baillieu, launched the picture-story, Christina's Matilda, illustrated by Elizabeth Botté (for ages 10-110) at the Toorak Library, South Yarra. Press releases sent to a dozen media outlets led to newspaper articles being published on 22 and 30 March. These resulted in attention from members of the Macpherson and the McArthur Clans.

Since 1973, at least eight books have mentioned Christina Macpherson: a sentence, a paragraph, a page. Now that a title has been devoted to her, the Macpherson and McArthur Clans in Australia are thrilled. [Christina's younger sister, Margaret, Premier Baillieu's Great-Grandmother, married Stewart McArthur (later Justice Sir Stewart McArthur) of Meningoort, Camperdown.]

Edel was invited to attend the Ringwood (Melbourne) Highland Games, 10 April 2011, warmly welcomed at the Clan Macpherson tent and made an Honorary Member of the Macpherson Clan.

The Clans have huge international networks, so the news of the publication of Christina's Matilda spread rapidly via the Internet. Interactive Publications indicates that the book may be purchased in the following ways:

The deluxe hard cover edition is available from book shops in Australia and can be ordered online from http://ipoz.biz/Store/orders.htm or from sales@ipoz.biz.

A paperback edition is available from Lightning Source and Amazon UK, and it can be ordered from most bookshops worldwide that have access to the Bowkerlink and Bookdata databases.

Edel Wignell with book buyer, Heather Byers, at the Clan Macpherson tent, Ringwood Highland Games, 1 April 2012.

Edel Wignell with book buyer, Heather Byers, at the Clan Macpherson tent, Ringwood Highland Games, 1 April 2012.

An e-book can be purchased from the Kindle store: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B004UHSFKQ but it is recommended that people who buy it there have the Kindle for PC or Mac software that enables it to be viewed in colour (the Kindle itself displays only in black & white).

It will soon be available from the Apple iBookstore and other eBook partners.

Discussion: Clans and other family or tribal groups

After discussing the fact that pioneering families who arrived from Scotland in the 19th Century are still proud of their heritage and like to gather in clans for special occasions, students may be led to discover the many groups, tribes, clans, kin and families in countries all around world, and their histories. Topics for class or group research may include:

  • Attitudes to Indigenous Australians by English invaders and settlers – ignorance of the fact that they comprised hundreds of groups, each with their own language, culture and customs.
  • Similarly, the many groups of Indigenous peoples in North America were called Red Indians by pioneering Westerners. Now these groups are called First Nations and their differing histories and cultures are acknowledged.
  • Africa, comprising hundreds of different groups, was colonized by English, Dutch, French, Belgian and other invaders, each enforcing new borders and introducing new ways of life, but some of the original conflicts between Indigenous groups remain.
  • The Middle East, with its long history of conflict between various peoples, is a fascinating study, as is the efforts of peace-makers to heal centuries of animosity and resentment.

 

THE WHITE ELEPHANT: DRAMA BASED ON ASIAN FOLK TALES
for children 8-12 years; 2009,
Teaching Solutions, ISBN 978 1 870 51688 4
Edel Wignell
Australian Society of Authors Ltd ©
www.teachingsolutions.com.au

A white elephant, a magic gem, trickery, fire and wind wrapped in paper, a beautiful bird, time twists, wishes granted… This collection contains seven plays based on folk tales from India, Indonesia, Japan, Vietnam, China, Thailand and Papua/New Guinea.

Extensive Teachers' Notes accompany the plays.

Classroom Activities

1. The White Elephant – creative writing

After discussing the topic, 'Keeping a Secret', the children could write a story or a poem - factual or imaginative - about keeping a secret. They could compile the writings, with illustrations, into a book and give it an appropriate title.

2. The Mouse deer and the Crocodile – language development

  • What does it mean when a person cries 'crocodile tears'? Children could ask parents, report back to the class, and discuss
  • In the English language certain animals, reptiles, birds and insects are believed to have particular character traits. Here are a few examples: timid mouse, mischievous monkey, playful kitten, faithful dog. Children could start a list and add to it every day as they find more
  • Sometimes people are likened to creatures. Continue the following list:
    • Grandma is as wise as an owl
    • My brother is as brave as a lion.

3. Urashima Taro and the World Beneath the Sea – Discussion and dilemma

'Don't open the box,' said the Princess. It was a magic box, and there were consequences when Urashima Taro disobeyed. Questions may elicit imaginative responses.

What do you think would have happened if he hadn't opened it?
Would he have met the Princess again?
Could you obey an order such as this?
How hard is it to wait when you see wrapped gifts under the Christmas tree?

4. The Raven's Magic Gem - research

Children could find information and illustrations of semi-precious stones or gems, and suggest which one was given to the boy by the raven.
If children's relatives own a ring, necklet or brooch set with a gem or a precious stone, they could be invited to visit and show it; or take an excursion to shop which sells gems.

 

BIG EYES, SCARY VOICE
illustrated by Carl Pearce - for ages 3-5 years, ISBN 978 1870 51688 4 Pb
2008, Tamarind/Random House Children's Books, UK; Random House Australia
Edel Wignell
Australian Society of Authors Ltd ©
www.tamarindbooks.co.uk | www.randomhouse.com.au

Tania and Josh hear a scary voice calling in the park at sunset. They explore and listen as they venture warily through the shadows to find the source. Carl Pearce's interpretation brings drama and mystery to the setting – a cliff top park beside a harbour.

This book will be of special interest to teachers with multi-cultural classes.

Perhaps your class includes black and brown children with parents from countries such as India, Malaysia, Sri Lanka, Indonesia, the Philippines, the Sudan and other African republics, Papua New Guinea, New Zealand, Samoa and other Pacific Islands… Is it difficult to find stories featuring these children?

The Publisher, Verna Wilkins, who was born in Grenada in the West Indies, worked as a lecturer in English and Business for ten years before founding Tamarind Books in 1987. When her children were young they believed that only white children could feature in books. Through Tamarind, Verna set out to ensure that the next generations had access to high quality books featuring children from all backgrounds in universal situations.

She has produced a range of high quality illustrated children's books in which black children have a positive profile. Verna publishes both fiction and non-fiction, and has written about 30 biographies of successful black people living in the UK today. Late in 2007, Tamarind Books became an imprint of Random House Children's Books (UK).

See the Random House Australia website for news of the six Tamarind Books now available. www.tamarindbooks.co.uk

Classroom presentation – Big Eyes, Scary Voice

  • Before reading the story, children may comment on the cover illustration: the characters and the setting
  • On opening the book, they may discuss the end papers, decorated with stylized feathers and eyes
  • The first double-page spread, revealing a cliff top park and a harbour, provides opportunities to discuss the geographical setting and the time of day
  • The hoots throughout may inspire suggestions: Is it a train, a ship, a bird, someone's toy? The tone of voice will tell something about the hoots. If the hoots are scary, will they be high or low, soft or loud? Children may try hooting. Whose hoot is scariest? Why?
  • A comparison of the final double-page spread with the first shows the passage of time. What happens to the sky at sunset? How long were Tania, Josh and their mother adventuring in the park?
  • On re-reading, look for eyes and suggestions of eyes, and ensure that the hoots are effective – soft voices being more scary than loud
  • Art activity: Whose Eyes? Firstly, children may think of a setting: jungle, zoo, shopping centre, farm or underwater, then draw or paint several pairs of eyes on a sheet of paper and build a scene by selecting animals, birds, insects, fish, people… and adding details.

 

TYING THE KNOT: FOLK TALES OF LOVE AND MARRIAGE FROM AROUND THE WORLD
A collection of 12 entertaining tales for ages 10-16 years
2006, Phoenix Education, ISBN 1 921085 21 www.phoenixeduc.com
and Tying the Knot: Teacher Resource Book ISBN 1 921085 22 3
Edel Wignell
Australian Society of Authors Ltd ©

Folk tales of love and marriage from around the world mirror life in former times. Better than a history lesson, more telling that an exposition of feminist theory, folk tales explain life and relationships as they were and, in many places, still are.

Samples from Tying the Knot: Teacher Resource Book

1. The Maiden Wiser than the Tsar

In a Serbian tale, 'The Maiden Wiser than the Tsar', a young woman, on her marriage to the Tsar, requests that the Tsar write and sign a contract for her future security. She has the foresight to secure her future in the event that the marriage fails.

Making such a contract was, no doubt, unusual hundreds of years ago, as it is today. Many people enter marriage believing that they are 'marrying for life': they will be together 'until death us do part'. To write a contract relating to future difficulties is anathema, for it contradicts hopes and faith in the enduring nature of marriage.

Increasingly in the last twenty years, couples have been negotiating a contract stating that, if the marriage fails, they will share property and agree to certain conditions in relation to their future children. Full of goodwill, they hope to avoid the acrimonious arguments and protracted legal proceedings that often arise, years later, at the time of separation and divorce.

  • What do you think? Is it wise for newly-weds to make a contract in regard to a possible future separation? Obtain copies of wedding vows from religious and civil celebrants so that you will have a clearer understanding of what is involved in making marriage vows.

2. The Stubborn Wife

When people lived all their lives in villages, on farms and in other small communities, and never travelled far, they expected to court and marry within their own community. Many young peoples' lives were programmed by parents who promised them in marriage at an early age - a tradition maintained in some cultures today.

The stubborn wife and the henpecked husband are stereotyped figures found in many societies and are, therefore, an ideal subject for humour, both oral and written. A Finnish folk tale, 'The Stubborn Wife', well illustrates the saying: In marriage two people become one, but soon they have to decide, which one? (Source unknown)

  • What is true love? Some people say that wanting to please a partner is evidence of it. But what happens when one partner has a dominant personality: must win, must always have the last word? Consider relationships that you know. Where does the power lie? Who makes the decisions? How are disagreements negotiated? Do any couples achieve equality?

3. How to Share Five Cakes

The argumentative couple is one of the comic stereotypes of marriage, often used by playwrights, and by comedians as part of an entertainment routine. In 'How to Share Five Cakes', a folk tale from Ceylon (now called Sri Lanka), neither partner will give in and a dire situation develops.

How prevalent is the 'never-give-in' attitude in partnerships and marriage? What happens in most relationships? Who gives in? Do couples take turns to give in, or does one partner always win? Many examples will come to mind, both humorous and tragic, in all kinds of relationships: siblings, friends sharing a flat, partners, married couples – from real life and from books and television.

 

ADDING CHORUSES TO PLAYSCRIPTS
Drama activities for children 8-12 years
First published in Practically Primary Magazine, 2008, www.alea.edu.au
also in Children's Book Insider (USA), 2009, www.write4kids.com
Edel Wignell
Australian Society of Authors Ltd ©

When writing plays for children, I make provision for every member of a class to join in. The addition of choruses gives those who aren't taking the main roles an opportunity to sing or chant together several times during the play.

Teachers who encourage children to create plays, both orally and in script form, can introduce them to the idea of adding choruses. The following notes outline several ways of doing this.

Various approaches

  • Choruses may be written for one, two or more groups
  • They may be said or sung as chants (rhyming or non-rhyming), based on the tunes of well-known songs
  • In some plays, it is appropriate to chant the same words several times as the drama progresses. In others, the words may change slightly as the plot unfolds
  • Each chorus may be totally different.

Rhyming chants

In 'The Picture Wife', a play adapted from a Japanese folk tale, rhyming choruses depict the attitudes - first of the village girls, then, later in the play, of the castle servants. The village girls laugh at Gombei, a simple village boy who wants to marry. The words of the choruses change throughout, but the structure remains the same. Here are two examples of the nine choruses.

from Tricking the Tiger: Plays Based on Asian Folk Tales

VILLAGE GIRLS CHORUS:

Gombei, Gombei!
Village boy, oh! so shy;
Wants to marry
In a hurry!
No, no! Gombei!

CASTLE SERVANTS CHORUS:

A picture we found, a picture we bring,
In praise we shout, in praise we sing.
Who is this girl?
A gem, a pearl -
This lovely young woman will marry a king.

Non-rhyming chants

from The Hobyahs and other Plays from around the World

'The Hobyahs', a puppet play adapted from a Scots folk tale, provided an excellent opportunity to introduce choruses. (A hobyah is a frightening bogie.) The tale has a sequence of incidents introduced thus:

FIRST CHORUS:

Out from the gloomy gullies came the Hobyahs -
creep, creep, creeping.

SECOND CHORUS:

Through the grey gum-trees came the Hobyahs -
run, run, running.

THIRD CHORUS:

Skip, skip, skipping on the ends of their toes
came the Hobyahs.

The troop of Hobyahs shouted every time they neared the hut where the little old man, the little old woman, the little girl and little dog Turpie slept.

HOBYAH CHORUS:
Hobyah, Hobyah, Hobyah!
Pull down the hut!
Eat up the little old man
Eat up the little old woman,
Carry off the little girl.

These are the actual words of the story, so the choruses are not invented - merely adapted to chorus structure. (By the way, a comforting word to anxious readers: at the end, little dog Turpie ate up all the Hobyahs, 'and that is why there are no Hobyahs now'.)

from The White Elephant: Drama based on Asian Folk Tales

In 'The Young Head of the House', adapted from a Chinese folk tale, the father has issued an ultimatum to his daughters-in-law who are leaving to visit their mothers. They must not return unless they bring back fire and wind, both wrapped in paper. The chanting of the sons' chorus several times provides an atmosphere of menace.

SONS' CHORUS:

Fire and wind, wind and fire,
Wrapped in paper, paper-wrapped.

As the story progresses and the action changes, the chants change, too, but the pattern remains until the last:

SONS' CHORUS:

No sorrow, sorrow none,
Fame and wealth, wealth and fame.

Known songs

from The Hobyahs and other Plays from around the World

'Ghost Wagon' was inspired by an anecdote from Australian folklore in which campers see a ghost wagon arriving at a camping ground in the outback.

In the play, a class is on a five-day excursion with teachers and parents. One evening, they sing songs chosen by the children as they sit around the campfire. The songs include: 'Waltzing Matilda', 'Old Macdonald had a Farm', 'Michael Finnigan' and 'Ten Green Bottles'. The arrival of the ghost wagon pulled by two horses, and the actions of the driver provide the drama and the mystery in the scene.

New verses set to familiar tunes

from The Hobyahs and other Plays from around the World

'A Trip to the Sky' is a script based on a Russian folk tale, a variant of the English 'Jack and the Beanstalk'. While the action and the dialogue belong to the main characters, the remainder of the class sing ten songs to the tunes of well-known nursery rhymes. Following are two, the first being sung to the tune of 'Mary Mary, Quite Contrary':

Water the seed, water the seed,
Watch the pea seed grow,
With little yellow roots
And little green shoots
And green leaves all in a row.

Soon after the farmer enters a house in the sky, the owner comes home. He gives his orders in song - to the tune of 'Three Blind Mice':

Throw him out! Throw him out!
Throw him out! Throw him out!
Find the rascal and throw him out,
The rascal is here - now throw him out!
Throw him out! Throw him out!

Like rap

It is important that children read choruses aloud to ensure that they have a strong rhythm and can be spoken or sung to a regular beat - like rap.

  • First, identify the beat (e.g. three strong beats in each line).
  • Then practise the choruses several times to ensure that participants speak together.

Sharing

Finally, choruses provide group reading with a difference: a way for audiences to enjoy the fun of participation and sharing. Although the chorus participants are not taking active individual roles in the drama, they aren't merely watchers and listeners. They contribute to the atmosphere and the development of tension, and thus to the satisfaction and success of the whole class.

Script collections

The White Elephant: Drama based on Asian Folk Tales (2009, Teaching Solutions) for ages 8-12 years. ISBN: 978 1 921454 28 8 www.teachingsolutions.com.au

Tricking the Tiger: Plays Based on Asian Folk Tales (2002, Phoenix Education) for ages 10-14 years. ISBN 9 781876 580322 www.phoenixeduc.com

The Hobyahs and Other Plays from Around the World (1995, Bushfire Press, translated into Chinese by Bookman Books, Taiwan) for ages 7-10 years. ISBN: 1 875191 48 8 www.bushfirepress.com