Jacob and Lottie

story by Bill Condon , illustrated by Tohby Riddle

Learning intention

I am learning to identify aspects of literary texts that convey details or information about historical contexts so that I can compose texts from a wide variety of genres.

Success criteria

  • I can identify key events in a story.
  • I can discuss historical details conveyed in a story.
  • I can imagine how people may have felt at the time about historical events.
  • I can compose speech bubbles to express characters’ feelings about historical events.

Essential knowledge

Ensure students understand the term historical context (narratives that are set in historical settings).

Discuss what students know about the Second World War. Sample responses include:

  • the conflict was caused in part due to tension between some European countries that had been building since the end of the WWI
  • many countries were involved
  • there were many warfronts in Europe
  • many people were persecuted under the German leader, Hitler
  • people were called up to fight in the war.

For further information view the article World War II on Britannica Kids.

Read Jacob and Lottie. Note some of the elements readers learn about Jacob and Lottie’s life based on reading the story. Place students in pairs and instruct them to note further elements. Examples include:

  • as children Jacob and Lottie lived in Österreich (Austria) and the pair were photographed there in 1938
  • they migrated to Australia by ship just before the beginning of World War II
  • they got married
  • Jacob joined the Australian Army
  • Jacob was killed in the war
  • When Lottie was an old lady, she would take flowers when the neighbour invited her to dinner.

Tell students that while Jacob and Lottie might be fictional characters often authors of stories that feature historical settings will undertake research to ensure they include factual elements. Tell students that this might not always be the case and emphasise the importance of using multiple sources for research to ensure factual information can be checked.

Discuss historical details revealed about the time period based on events in Jacob and Lottie’s life by asking the following questions:

  • Why might Jacob and Lottie have left Österreich just prior to the beginning of World War Two? (They may have left to escape the brewing tension or to avoid persecution)
  • Why might Jacob have joined the army? (He may have been called-up to fight, which meant he wouldn’t have had a choice about joining the army)

Inform students that often when we learn about events in history, we mostly learn a series of facts. Tell students that learning personal stories of historical contexts allows us to consider how people might have thought and felt at the time. Draw students’ attention to the fact that there is no description in the story of how Jacob and Lottie might have felt about these events. Inform students that they will be composing speech bubbles to add to the photos described in the text.

Instruct students to draw lines to separate a page in their workbooks into four sections. Discuss photos described in the story, for example:

  • Jacob and Lottie at family get-togethers in Österreich
  • Jacob and Lottie leaving Österreich on a boat for Australia
  • Jacob and Lottie playing with a dog in their backyard
  • Jacob in his army uniform.

Students should make a quick sketch to represent each of these photos or make notes about what the photos show in each of the sections on their page. Alternatively, students can create the images digitally using programs such as Microsoft Paint.

View work by Raymond Briggs for examples of how speech bubbles might be added to illustrations. Discuss speech bubbles that might be added to the first photo. Ensure students are aware that speech bubbles are used to show what people are saying (direct speech). Provide an example such as a speech bubble above Lottie that says, ‘I love being with family,’ and one above Jacob that says, ‘Yes, there is nothing better than being with all our family here in Österreich’.

Briefly discuss how Jacob and Lottie may have felt in each of the remaining three photos. If students find this challenging tell them to imagine how they might feel were they to find themselves in similar circumstances. Ideas include:

  • Jacob and Lottie leaving on a boat (nervous to be leaving their home and their family but excited for the new adventure)
  • Jacob and Lottie playing with a dog in their backyard (missing their family but happy to have a dog for company and enjoying their new lives in Australia)
  • Jacob in his army uniform (nervous about whether he will stay safe when at war but proud that he is representing his country)

Tell students to compose speech bubbles for the remaining three images. Remind students the direct speech should focus on how the characters may have felt about key historical events. Share students’ responses and discuss similarities and differences between the ideas.