Captain Ahab's Weird Wide World: Toktokkies

Karen Wasson , photo by Alamy

Learning intentions:

I am learning how to use visual tools when I draw so that I can use illustrations to communicate with my audience effectively.

Success criteria:

  • I can identify the way different illustrators have used framing, angles and other visual techniques to make the audience focus on aspects of their pictures
  • I can identify ways to demonstrate action in illustrations
  • I can create movement in illustrations
  • I can use framing and angles to inform my audience effectively


After reading the text, ask students to recall different ways that Toktokkies move. These should include:

  • Tapping on the ground with their abdomens, making a tok-tokkie kind of sound
  • Running extremely fast, creating a breeze underneath them
  • Climbing to the tops of dunes to do handstands


Inform students that they are going to be creating a new dance for the toktokkies and drawing a sequence of pictures to demonstrate it. Draw students’ attention to the pictures accompanying the text, beginning with the photos. Ask them to describe the physical features of the toktokkies. Answers should include:

  • They have long legs that stretch out to the side of their bodies
  • They have a large rear that sticks up in the air
  • They have small heads that are positioned closer to the ground


Next, have students look at the illustration that depicts the toktokkie dancing. Ask students what dance move it is performing and how the artist has demonstrated it (it is kicking its right legs out to the side, which is shown through the right legs being outstretched and up higher than the left legs).

Referring to the Australian Curriculum glossary entry for framing, ask students what kind of framing the toktokkie in the illustration is (strong) and how they can tell (it creates a sense of enclosure as the toktokkie fills up most of the frame, as though it is zoomed in). Further, discuss the elements that students feel make it an engaging illustration. These may include the toktokkies facial expression, the fact that it appears as though the toktokkie is facing us and that its eyes are directing our focus to its dancing legs.

Have students turn to the poem The Undeterred Octopus on page 10. Discuss the elements this illustration shares with the one from the article about toktokkies. These should include the use of strong framing in this illustration, the happy facial expression and the fact that the character is facing the audience. Repeat this process with Knight and Day on page 20.

Explain to students that they should work with a partner or small group to come up with a dance for the toktokkies. Like the moves written about in the article, their dances may be a form of communication, a method for staying cool, a way of getting a drink, or any other reason they can think of that a toktokkie may dance!

Their dances should comprise of approximately 4-8 moves. Once they have worked out their sequence of moves, they should use a ruler to divide a piece of paper into even sections, which will create the frames for their pictures.

Remind students to use a strong frame and have their dancing toktokkie character ‘facing’ the reader. They should also consider the toktokkie’s facial expression to engage the reader and may wish to incorporate the use of their character’s eyeline to draw the viewer’s focus to a particular body part for each move.