Earth Quest Four

story by John O'Brien , illustrated by Sylvia Morris

Analyse world-building techniques used by the author then make personal judgements about the world.

After reading the story, if you have a digital subscription complete the Comprehending Earth Quest Four interactive activity to check student understanding

Explain that while the story is about three characters discussing their favourite game, the plot background explores a deep, rich world. Tell students that this is a clever technique for authors to slip world-building details into a narrative.

Students get into groups of four to complete a placemat on an A3 sheet of paper, where they write down their individual ideas, discuss and place agreed-upon answers in the centre of the page. The topic of the placemat is things they know about the world in the story Earth Quest Four. They must use clues from the text to assist them. Encourage students to find as many minor things as possible, such as the fact goblins are green. Answers include:

- it’s common to fly dragons as transport

- elves and goblins used to be enemies, but joined together to fight Lord Doom

- Lord Doom has sent skeletal armies to try to take over

- Lord Doom is using sea monsters to support his invading armies

- things in the sea include ghost-sharks and wobble-whales

Once placemats are complete, groups share their answers with the class and allow other groups to add missing information to their central space on the placemat.

Now they have the details, students are to individually create a PMI chart exploring their ‘Plus, Minus, Interesting’ thoughts. They are to write their positive reactions to the world-building under the P column, their negative reactions under the M column and things they found interesting but don’t have a positive or negative reaction to under the I column. Encourage students to think about why they are placing each point in certain columns. For example, perhaps a student doesn’t like stories about elves and goblins, so will be putting that information under the M column but thinks ghost-sharks sound cool and therefore puts it under the P column.

When columns are complete, students should reflect on whether the world building worked for them or not based on how many items are in each column. They can write a short, one-sentence opinion such as:

I liked/did not like the setting in this story because __________________________

EXTENSION: Students use world-building details they’ve been given to write their own story based in this fantasy world. The story can be about Lord Doom’s armies, the goblin and elven feuds or anything else.