Finding Out

story by David Hill , illustrated by Sylvia Morris

Learning Intention:

I am learning to analyse the development of a character in a text so that I can persuade others to read the text.


Success Criteria:

  • I can map my changing responses to a character in a text.
  • I can describe the techniques the author used to develop that character.
  • I can write a blurb persuading people to read the text.


Essential knowledge:

For more information about the conventions of persuasion, see The School Magazine’s video on Argument.

For more information about the roles of the composer and the responder, see The School Magazine’s video on Authority.

For more information about characters in a text, see The School Magazine’s video on Character.


Oral language and communication:

With the class, view the following blurbs from Penguin Random House’s website:

An A to Z of Dreaming Differently

Charlotte’s Web

The Stone Bird

Fantastic Mr Fox


Ask students to describe the purpose of a blurb (to persuade people to read the book). Have students find examples of persuasive devices in each of the above blurbs.

Ensure students note the blurbs include:

- The use of powerful and positive adjectives to describe the book and creators (e.g. beautifully illustrated, award-winning, timeless classic, magical, stunning, luminary, much-loved)

- A short summary of the events of the text

- A short description of the characters

- A quote from the text

- A hook to intrigue readers to want to know more


Understanding text:

Tell students that they will be writing their own blurb for the story they’re about to read. Explain that to persuade others to read the text, they need to map their own responses to the characters and their journey through the narrative. Remind students that being aware of how the author purposefully develops character and plot will give them a better understanding of the text.

Have each student divide a piece of paper into four and label the quadrants A-D.

Read the first page of Finding Out (page 16), up to:

One time when we were driving back home, my mother asked what Uncle Fred and I had been talking about.

Pause and ask the following questions:

- What does the narrator think of Uncle Fred? (He’s boring)

- Do you think Uncle Fred will be boring?

- Why not?

Explain that, even though the narrator thinks Uncle Fred is boring, the author is setting the reader up with different expectations. Tell students that the author is relying on their knowledge of story structure and giving hints (foreshadowing) in the form of the narrator’s mother’s dialogue, which clues readers into the fact that there will be more to Uncle Fred than what has been revealed so far.

Have students write what they think of Uncle Fred in quadrant A of their paper and any questions they might have about the character so far (such as why his shoulder is bent). Explain that including the bent shoulder gives the character of Uncle Fred a bit of mystery and encourages the reader to continue reading to find out what happened to him.

Read the next page (page 17). Ask students:

- What do you think about Uncle Fred now?

- Why do you think the author included the fact that Uncle Fred thought war was wrong? (It shows his strong morals)

- Why do you think the author included the fact that Uncle Fred lied about his age? (It shows his bravery and determination)

- How has your view of Uncle Fred changed since the last page?

- Do you think your opinion of Uncle Fred will change again before the end of the story?

Have students write their answers in quadrant B.

Finish the story and ask the following questions:

- Why do you think Uncle Fred didn’t tell anyone about his brave acts? (He was humble)

- Why do you think the author included the fact he threw away his medal? (It shows how sad he was)

- What does it say about Uncle Fred’s character that he sacrificed so much – and went against his anti-war beliefs – to protect future generations? (He’s selfless)

- How do you think the narrator feels about Uncle Fred now? (Admires him)

- How do you feel about Uncle Fred now?

Have students write their thoughts in quadrant C.


Creating text:

Return to the blurbs from the beginning of the lesson and remind students that they will be writing a blurb for this story, persuading people to read it. On the board, brainstorm a list of adjectives to describe the book, such as powerful, bittersweet and thought-provoking.

Remind students that a blurb should have a short summary of the characters and the plot, but not give away too much. They should also include some techniques the author used to develop the character of Uncle Fred. Encourage them to look at the blurbs provided or other blurbs on classroom novels for inspiration.

Students write their blurbs in quadrant D of their paper.

A sample answer:

Finding Out is a powerful story about a man named Fred, who at first seems boring and strange. As the narrative continues, the author uses foreshadowing and intrigue to suggest there’s more to Fred than the reader initially realised. It is a thought-provoking read that will be tugging at your heartstrings by the end.


Assessment for/as learning:

Students swap blurbs with a partner and give feedback in the form of two stars and a wish.