A New Home

story by Caroline Womack , illustrated by David Legge


Learning Intention:

I am learning about plot structure and characterisation so that I can discuss how authors engage their readers in a story.


Success Criteria:

  • I can identify significant extracts in a story and discuss their importance to plot and character development
  • I can share my response to the story, drawing on my own personal experiences.


Essential knowledge:

You can find a professional learning video for teachers about understanding narrative on the Department of Education website.

There is further information about Character on the English textual concepts website


Understanding text:


Read the first section of the story, up until ‘The hum of the car eventually lulled him to sleep.’

Ask students how the story has made them feel, just from reading the opening. (suggested answer: Many students will say that the story made them feel sad for Jack, because he has had to say goodbye to his Grandma. Some students might suggest that the description of the characters crying made them feel teary too.)


Ask students to choose 1 sentence from the opening section of the story that made them feel that emotion. They can underline it and then compare answers with a partner.


As a class discuss the following question:

  • Why is it important for an author to try and get readers to feel different emotions when they are reading?

(Suggested answer: Readers who can connect and feel empathy for the characters are more likely to enjoy a story, and more likely to keep reading. Reading stories helps us to be empathetic to the characters but also other people in real life.)


Continue reading the story until the end of page 27.

Ask students if their emotional response to the story has changed as a result of reading further. (suggested answer: Students might have noticed that at first, they continued to feel sad as the journey away from grandma continued, but as they approached their destination, they started to feel more hopeful that it will work out for Jack).


Ask students to identify a sentence in this section of the story where there was a change in mood or feeling about Jack moving to his new home. They can compare their chosen sentence with a partner.

Suggested answers:

  • Maybe this wouldn’t be so bad.
  • Her voice was as warm and as inviting as a soft cushion
  • ‘Is he here?’ squealed a young girl.


As a class discuss the following question:

  • Why is it important for authors to make readers feel more than one emotion in a story? (suggested answer: To keep readers interested, a story should have variety – including in the emotions conveyed in the story.)


Read until the end of the story.

As a class discuss the following question:

  • What surprised you about the ending of the story? (suggested answer: it is revealed that Jack is a dog, not a child.)
  • Why do you think that the author hid that Jack was a dog from the reader until the very end? (suggested answer: At the beginning when readers think that Jack is a child, saying goodbye to his Grandma, they connect strongly with Jack’s character. They might not have felt as strong a connection if we knew it was a dog being rehomed)
  • How did you feel at the end of the story? (suggested answer: Students may suggest that they feel happy or relieved that Jack is now with a lovely family to care for him.
  • Looking back at the earlier parts of the story, are there any clues that Jack wasn’t human? (suggested answer: The only dialogue is from the man, Jack never speaks. In the first sentence, Jack is lying on the back seat of the car – not sitting up in a seatbelt, students might also have noticed the illustration on page 26 showing the man from a low angle.)


Assessment for/as learning:


Ask students to write a paragraph answering the question: What makes a good story? Students are to use ‘A New Home’ as an example story. Encourage students to use the sentences they underlined during the lesson, or even a different extract from the story to help them show what makes a good story. This can be submitted to teachers at the end of the lesson as an ‘exit slip’ style response.


For students who require a scaffold, you can provide the following:

What makes a good story?

Introduce features of a good story (think about the discussions you had in class with your teacher about ‘A New Home’). A good story includes...


Talk about the story you read in class called ‘A New Home.’ Explain what makes it a good story. In class we read ‘A New Home’ it is a good story because…


Include one of the sentences you underlined as an example.


An example of a sentence showing how the story makes readers feel ……… is ….
Complete your paragraph with one final sentence that identifies the features that make a good story.


Good stories need to have….