How to Catch a Rainbow

story by Paul Malone , illustrated by Tohby Riddle

Learning intention:

I am learning to give a considered interpretation and opinion about a literary text, recognising that others have equal claims to divergent views.

Success criteria:

  • I can read a story and identify elements I enjoy.
  • I can reflect on which story I prefer from a choice of two.
  • I can engage in a discussion, sharing my opinion.
  • I can discuss my ideas respectfully, recognising that others’ opinions may differ and respecting the choices of others.


Read the beginning of How to Catch a Rainbow (pages 6 and 7). Pause as you read, identifying elements students enjoy. Inform students that they may choose to comment on anything, providing examples such as humor, imagery, vocabulary, plot elements. Sample responses might include:

Humorous lines, such as,

Amir’s dad held out his hand to Amir’s mum and spoke in a silly English accent: ‘Care for a stroll in the rain, my dear?”

Examples of imagery, such as,

They huddled in the farmhouse with its crackling fireplace and mismatched sofas, and Amir’s dad started everyone playing Monopoly.

Realistic dialogue, such as:

‘So, stop gloating!’

‘Gloating? I’m not gloating!’

‘Yes, you are,’ Amir said. ‘It drives me nuts!’

Place students in pairs and instruct them to continue reading How to Catch a Rainbow, noting down further examples of elements they enjoy. Discuss responses.

Inform students that they will be comparing How to Catch a Rainbow with another story written by the same author, to reflect on which story they enjoy more.

Read the first page of Molly’s Magic Garden (page 15), from Touchdown issue 6, 2022. Inform students that this story is written by the same author, Paul Malone.

As you read, discuss elements students enjoy. Again, tell students they can identify any elements they liked. Sample responses include:

Examples of descriptive language, such as,

Molly waits for us at the fishing village pier by the river mouth. I cast her the mooring line. She loops it around a wooden pylon.

The intrigue created by the idea of a magic garden, shown in lines such as,

But it’s not the lighthouse they are here to see. It’s what lies before it: Molly’s Magic Garden.

Descriptions of the characters, who seem kind, shown in lines such as:

‘Safe passage,’ she whispers before we leave.


Instruct students to read the remainder of Molly’s Magic Garden, again noting down anything they enjoy.

Inform students that they will now be engaging in a discussion about which of the stories they prefer. Briefly share which of the stories you prefer. Use the observations made in the notes to justify your opinions. For example, ‘I prefer How to Catch a Rainbow, as I enjoyed the humor in the lines of the characters. I also found the dialogue between Amir and his sister realistic, as it showed sibling bickering.’

Instruct students to decide which of the stories they preferred. Provide students with some thinking time while they consider this.

Once students have decided, group them according to their preferences, with those with similar opinions allocated to the same group.

Instruct students to discuss the following with their group:

  • Why did you prefer this story?
  • What elements did they particularly enjoy?
  • Were there any elements that were common to both stories, for example humor or clear imagery?

Inform students that they will need to justify their opinions with reasons. Tell students that they can use the observations made in their notes for this.

Allow time for the groups’ to discuss their ideas, before reconnecting the whole class. Inform students that they will now be conducting a whole class discussion on which text they prefer.

Briefly run through the rules of group discussions, covering the following:

  • Students’ must listen respectfully to the ideas of their peers before responding
  • Students’ should try to avoid interrupting or talking over one another
  • Students’ should remember to be respectful of each other

Refer back to each of the questions students discussed in groups, this time posing them to the class as a whole. Allow a representative from each side to share their response before one from the opposing side shares their ideas.