Harald and the Stinky Fish

story by Jo Staker , illustrated by Douglas Holgate

Learning intention:

I am learning how to link my experiences to those of characters in a text so that I can creatively incorporate my own feelings and experiences into my writing.


Success criteria:

  • I can discuss how the experience of a character links to my own.
  • I can come up with my own idea that aligns with the story.
  • I can write a persuasive script for a specific audience.


After reading the text, discuss the difference in feelings towards the stinky fish between Harald and Helga and ask if students can relate to this due to strongly disliking a food that a friend or family member loves (or vice-versa!). Perhaps it’s an unusual food, a strange combination or a particular ingredient that they find offensive to their tastebuds. As each student answers the question, ask the others to stand up if they like it / would try it, or stay seated if they wouldn’t. This will demonstrate the differences in our tastes.

Ask students if they would be willing to try stinky fish? Explain that it is known as Surstromming and considered a delicacy in Sweden. Discuss other delicacies from around the world that may seem strange to us, but appealing to others (e.g., fried tarantulas, live octopus or coffee made from animal dung!). Ask students to consider what kind of snacks they like to eat at school or home and discuss. Watch the video American Kids Taste Test Australian School Kids. Ask students to give a thumbs up or thumbs down to indicate whether they like/think they would like each snack in the video as it appears and discuss the reactions of the children in the video.

Explain to students that they need to make a plan for an eating contest at a modern-day version of the inter-village games, like the one in the story. To do this, they first need to choose a food that is edible enough for people to enter the contest, but still distasteful enough to interest others into watching. Students then need to come up with a ‘sales spiel’ to convince hypothetical passers-by to join the audience by building the excitement of the contest and being descriptive about the food that will be eaten. They must think about:

  • What are the stakes? (e.g., prizes, an honourable title)
  • Does the food have an offensive smell?
  • Does the food look disgusting or is it unusual in some way?
  • Does their food have a strange texture?
  • Is there a particular ingredient or combination of ingredients that causes the grossness?


Tell students to imagine they are standing outside the marquee where the eating contest is taking place and their job is to call out their spiel to the crowd as they are walking past. Display a starter example, such as:

‘Come on in, folks! The eating contest is about to begin, and you don’t want to miss it. It’s anybody’s guess who will win! Our contestants will need a strong stomach because they will be competing with each other for the grand prize by eating….’

Once students have completed their script, they should read it aloud to the class and use a show of hands to see who would be game enough to enter their eating contest.