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The Little Wave

Exploring the 2020 CBCA Short List: Younger Readers

The Little Wave book cover

Author: Pip Harry

Publisher: UQP

Themes: friendships, bullying, city school and country school, pastimes, school community

Years: Australian Curriculum: English, Years 3 and 4; HASS (Inquiry and Geography) Years 3 and 4; Digital Technologies, Years 3 and 4; Visual Arts, Years 3 and 4. NSW Stage 2

From the publisher’s synopsis:  When a Manly school sets out to bring a country class to the city for a beach visit, three very different kids find each other and themselves. Noah is fearless in the surf. Being at the beach makes him feel free. So where does his courage go when his best mate pushes him around? Lottie loves collecting facts about bugs, but she wishes her dad would stop filling their lonely house with junk. She doesn’t know what to do about it. Jack wants to be a cricket star, but first he has to get to school and look after his little sister. Especially if he wants to go on the class trip and see the ocean for the first time.

Unit writer: Helen Cozmescu

Building field knowledge

  • Letter writing is one form of communication. Research the history of letter writing. ACELY1686  EN2-4A
  • Explore the differences between letters and other forms of communication, such as emails, tweets, text messages, video messages, phone calls. ACELA1478  EN2-8B
  • Use an electronic device to create a video letter. ACELA1793 EN2-8B
  • Explore the purposes of letter writing today, including: to inform, to build and maintain relationships, to invite, to declare, to inquire, to recommend. Discuss how the purpose of the letter and the relationship between the writer and the recipient of the email determines the formality of the letter. Investigate differences between formal and informal letters. Students select someone they would like to communicate with and use their knowledge of purpose, relationship and formality to construct a letter. ACELA1478  EN2-8B
  • Letters can be primary sources of historical content. Find examples of letters from a particular time in history and identify the historical information we can gain from reading them. Students may wish to research letters from the ANZACS, letters from the Burke and Wills expedition, Ghandi’s letter to Hitler or Henrietta Augusta Dugdale’s letter to the Melbourne Argus about women’s rights. ACHASSI058  NSW S2 Content
  • Watch a video about letters and the post system. Write your predictions about what mail might look like in years to come. ACHASSI058  NSW S3 Content
  • Look at different examples of handwriting scripts. Debate the importance of handwriting today. ACTDIP012 

Exploring the context of the text

  • Students from the small, country town of Mullin travel to a school in the beachside, city suburb of Manly. Discuss the benefits and challenges of school visits aimed at exploring different parts of Australia. ACHASSK069  GE2-2
  • Use a satellite imagery program, like Google Earth, to view a different part of Australia or the world and compare it to your own setting. ACHASSK069 GE2-1

Responding to the text

  • The text explores family situations where adults deal with difficult aspects of life — Lottie’s dad uses hoarding to cope with grief, Jack’s mum deals with alcohol abuse, and Noah’s mum no longer surfs. Find examples which highlight how each adult works towards overcoming their difficulties. ACELY1680 EN2-4A
  • Identify the elements that help characters’ relationships develop. Explore the relationship between Noah and Lottie; Noah and Jack or Lottie and her dad. ACELY1692 EN2-4A
  • The work of Arthur Streeton is referenced in the story. Explore the work of Streeton and other Australian artists and discuss what message their artwork sends about Australia. ACAVAR113 NSW S2 Content

Exploring plot character and setting

  • The story is set in two parts of iconic Australia — the beach and the drought-stricken bush. Create a photo library of iconic Australian images, which can then be used for snapshot writing. ACELT1599 EN2-8B
  • Make a list of adjectives to describe each of the main characters found in the first three chapters. Find evidence from the text to support your choice of adjectives. ACELA1493 EN2-9B
  • What insights do we gain about each character from the pen pal letters they write? ACELT1605  EN2-10C
  • Noah and Lottie both experience bullying. Critique the effectiveness of their actions to cope with bullying.
  • Discuss the teacher’s reasoning for making Lottie and Noah project partners. ACELY1675 EN2-11D
  • Noah, Lottie and Jack all experience situations that make them feel embarrassed or uncomfortable. Critique the characters’ actions in each situation. ACELT1603 EN2-11D

Creating texts

Examining text structure and organisation

  • Explore elements of a verse novel. Students use the text as a model to write their own stanza about themselves. ACELT1791 EN2-2A
  • Discuss the effect of writing about each of the characters through narrative verse rather than prose. ACELT1606 EN2-2A
  • Create a narrative arc, showing how the narrative features unfold in the verse. ACELT1600 EN2-8B

Examining grammar

  • It is common for verse novels to be written in first person. What benefits does the reader gain by getting to know each character through their voice? ACELA1478 EN2-8B
  • The author uses a range of grammatical devices to help the reader understand setting. For example: Adverbials of place — nothing grows ‘from the thirsty cracked earth’ (page 2); ‘Through the window’, the sand curves (page 2); ‘Past Manly’, there are Queenscliff, Freshwater and Curl Curl beaches (page 3). Metaphors — The beach is my backyard (page 4); The wave’s a curling tunnel (page 26). Personification — sly rips shifting underneath (page 4) — the ocean swallows you whole (page 6). ACELT1600 EN2-8B
  • Find examples of similes that provide insight into a character’s feelings. For example: Lottie, who’s trying to hide like a snail in its shell (page 53); I feel like a helium balloon, slowly deflating (page 143). ACELT1600 EN2-8B
  • Find a sentence which provides description and use its grammatical construction as a model for your own writing. For example: Its green leaves drooped, browned, curled and gave up (page 160). ACELT1791 EN2-2A
  • Find examples of Australian colloquial language. For example: barbecued chook; wag school; wettie. ACELA1478 EN2-8B

Examining visual and multimodal features

  • A symbol representing each character is used at the beginning of each stanza. Design your own symbol to represent you. ACELT1601 EN2-2A
  • Explore the art work on the front and back covers. Match sections of the text to what is seen on the front cover. ACELT1601 EN2-2A

Additional and related resources and links to other texts: Read other verse novels (member access) Pookie Aleera is not my boyfriend by Steven Herrick, Do-wrong Ron by Steven Herrick and Caroline Margel, (member access) Sister Heart by Sally Morgan, and Leave Taking by Lorraine Marwood.

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