A Picnic for the Tortoise Family

story by Karen Jameyson , illustrated by Cheryl Orsini

Learning intention

I am learning to compare and contrast folktales so that I can draw conclusions about the style features of this genre.

Success criteria

  • I can discuss how authors and illustrators have a particular style in which they make stories exciting using various techniques unique to their writing.
  • I can identify and analyse the different stylistic and organizational features authors use to engage their audience.

Essential knowledge

View the video Style from The School Magazine. Ensure students identify that style refers to the personal approach of a writer/illustrator and the features they include.


Read A Picnic for the Tortoise Family or listen to the audio file. Discuss the style of the text (folktale). Draw students' attention to elements of the text such as beginning with ‘Once upon a time’ and the label in the byline which states it’s an English folktale retold by Karen Jameyson. Provide examples of folktales students might be familiar with, such as Jack and the Beanstalk and Little Red Riding Hood. Discuss anything students know about folktales and note elements on the board for them to refer to later. Sample responses include:

  • They are very old stories that have been passed on through the generations.
  • They often begin with phrases such as ‘Once upon a time,’ and end with phrases such as, ‘They all lived happily after.


Tell students that often folktales include a moral or lesson for how people should live.  Discuss what the moral of this story might be. Draw students' attention to the ending, where Baby Tortoise reveals he had been hiding all along waiting to see if his parents stick to their promise. Discuss how this might translate into a moral lesson example, steering students to conclude that it teaches readers to keep a promise.

Refer students to The Donkey’s Tale, found on pages 25 to 29 of this issue of Countdown. Read the play as a class or listen to the audio file. Discuss the moral lesson from this story, for example that anything is possible when you work as a team.

Inform students that they will be identifying stylistic elements of folktales by analysing both stories. Tell students that they will be using a Venn Diagram to organise their ideas.

Remind students of how Venn Diagrams are organised, with similarities between the two topics noted in the centre where the two circles overlap and the differences in each of the two outer sections. Students may complete the Venn Diagram in their workbooks or use a digital graphic organiser.

Place students with a partner and instruct them to complete their Venn Diagrams. Sample responses include:

Similarities between the two folktales:

  • Both include animals
  • Both feature a moral lesson.

Elements present only in A Picnic for the Tortoise Family:

  • The ending of the story feels sad, with the Baby Tortoise realising their parents haven’t kept their promise.

Elements present only in The Donkey’s Tale

  • The characters work together to scare away robbers (anything is possible when you work as a team)
  • The story features a happy ending, with all the animals' becoming friends.


Discuss responses, reflecting on any further elements' students identified about the style of folktales, such as:

  • They may have happy or sad endings
  • They often feature animals.


Assessment for/as learning:

Display the following exit ticket question for students to respond to in their workbooks:

  • Folktales often feature a similar style, which includes elements such as: ____ (A moral lesson, a happy or a sad ending and often they feature animals as characters)