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Two Wolves

Exploring the 2015 CBCA Short List: Younger Readers

Sillhouette of a running boy above and a cabin lit inside on a foggy night below the book title

Author: Tristan Bancks

Random House | ISBN 9780857982032

Themes: Survival, families and commitment, crime

Years:  Australian Curriculum: English Years 5, 6 and 7; HASS (Geography) Year 5 (NSW Stage 3)

From the publisher’s synopsis: One afternoon, police officers show up at Ben Silver’s front door. Minutes after they leave, his parents arrive home. Ben and his little sister Olive are bundled into the car and told they’re going on a holiday. But are they? 

Codes: AC – Australian Curriculum: English, HASS | EN – NSW syllabus for AC:E

Unit writer: Helen Cozmescu

Building field knowledge

  • Read about the Australian bush and the skills, strategies and resources needed to survive in it. ACELY1722  EN3-3A
  • Create a labelled diagram to demonstrate what a well prepared bush walker would carry.  ACELY1711  EN3-2A
  • Learn some basic first aid techniques. Use an online procedural text, to learn aspects of first aid.  Critique the text according to clarity of explanations, use of appropriate language and the use of visuals to support understanding. ACELY1723  EN3-3A
  • Ben and Olive became sick after they drank the creek water. Use an online map to investigate the issue of water quality around the world. ACHASSI096  
  • Create a map of the open spaces, in the local area and consider the resources and skills needed to survive for a period of time in these spaces. ACHASSI096 
  • Conduct a class discussion around the notion of ‘finders keepers’, when should this saying hold true and when should it be challenged.  ACELY1709  EN3-1A

Exploring the context of the text

  • Ben was a keen film maker. Watch a Stop Motion tutorial and experiment with this technique. Critique the advantages and disadvantages offered by this type of film. ACELT1612  EN3-7C
  • Learn about different aspects of film-making and apply this learning to recognise techniques film makers have used to achieve various effects. Australian screen has a range of film clips, to assist with this task. ACELA1764  EN3-5B            
  • Create a class glossary of the metalanguage needed to talk about the technicalities of film. ACELY1721  EN3-3A
  • Discuss the line (page 90) ‘A million dollars could buy a lot of happy’. Debate if money can buy happiness. ACELY1709  EN3-1A 
  • In groups, investigate the motto of the New South Wales Police Force — Culpam Poena Premit Comes. Create a new motto and explain its significance. ACELT1608  EN3-8D
  • Ben wanted to be a detective. Try some investigative work, through the Catch a Thief SeriesACELY1702  EN3-3A

Responding to the text

  • Ben’s developing sense of identity was expressed through his I am me thoughts.  Use the cinquain poetry structure to create a poem reflecting Ben’s views about himself: Line 1.  Noun to represent Ben |  Line 2. Two vivid adjectives |  Line 3. Three action verbs | Line 4.  Four word phrase to represent Ben’s thoughts, feelings or actions | Line 5. Noun or Ben’s name.  ACELT1623  EN3-5B
  • Ben faces a moral dilemma when he realises the crime his parents have committed.  Discuss this in relation to his thoughts about ‘flesh and blood’ and the quote ‘I am me but they are me too’ (page 173).  ACELY1709  EN3-1A
  • Ben records his parents’ conversation and his father reads Ben’s notebook. In both examples, privacy has not been respected. Use the Tug of War thinking routine to explore the importance of privacy and instances when is should be ignored?  ACELT1620  EN3-7C

Exploring plot character and setting

  • Use first person to re-write the scene where Ben finds the money in the ceiling from the point of view of Ben and Dad. Why do the two characters have a different perspective? ACELT1609  EN3-2A
  • Ben suspects his parents have committed a crime and writes clues in his notebook.  Make a notebook to record evidence of Ben’s character. ACELY1801  EN3-5B 
  • Ben has a number of fears — zombies, piranhas, monsters in cupboards. He tells himself ‘The only thing we have to fear is fear itself’ (page 205). Create a comic strip showing thought bubbles for Ben, that illustrate how he becomes increasingly brave.  ACELA1764  EN3-2A

Creating texts

  • Become familiar with aspects of film making.  ACELT1805  EN3-8D
  • Explore the role of storyboarding in movie making.  In groups of four, re-create a story board for a sequence of events from the text. Use the story board to film your own short movie. Watch all the movies made by the groups and critique these. How closely did the film match the story board? How true was the story board to the book?  What film making techniques were employed? ACELT1805  EN3-3A

Examining text structure and organisation

  • The Two Wolves proverb provides insight into the struggle between the themes of good and bad. Find text examples of the 'good wolf’ and the ‘bad wolf’ for the characters of Ben, Dad, Mum and Olive. ACELA1525  EN3-6B
  • Choose a chapter heading and discuss how the heading foreshadows the events in the chapter. ACELA1797  EN3-5B
  • Consider the role of the first sentence in Chapters 1 and 36 — ‘You keep running, you’ll go to bed tired.’ What effect has the book ending on this line have on the text?  What other examples can be found that link the narrative. ACELT1795  EN3-1A
  • Examine the cliff hangers at the end of the chapters. Use sketching to predict the outcome. ACELY1699  EN3-3A 

Examining grammar

  • Explore the use of idioms. Better the devil you know (page 166). Money doesn't buy happiness (page 194). Keep your pants on (page 82). Discuss the context in which these occur and relate the use of idioms to a discussion around  the tenor (degree of formality). ACELA1529  EN3-7C
  • The author uses a range of literary devices, including similes, metaphors and rhetorical questions.  List examples of these and discuss what effect the use of these has on the reader. ACELT1611  EN3-3A
  • The author uses single word sentences, simple sentences, compound sentences and complex sentences. Create a table with examples of each.  Evaluate the use of sentence structure and its effectiveness in expressing emotion, representing action and providing insight into the characters.  ACELA1523  EN3-6B
  • Find examples of complex sentences that show: Cause and effect — so, as, because, since; Compare and contract — although, while; Place — by, outside, around, nearby; Manner — brightly, closely; Time — before, later; Relationship — that, who, which.  ACELA1534  EN3-6B

Examining visual and multimodal features

  • Identify the visual elements used for the front and back covers of the text. Consider the use of colour, shading, font and font size, the realistic representation of the hut and the silhouetted figure running.  ACELT1805  EN3-3A 

Additional resources and links to other texts:  The writing style of Tristan Bancks can be explored by comparing and contrasting his other novels to Two Wolves.  Watch the book trailer of Two Wolves to examine the role of realism in narratives.

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