Just Junk

story by Simon Cooke , illustrated by Astred Hicks

Learning Intention:


I am learning to identify how texts reflect the context in which they were created so that I can analyse their ideas and events.


Success Criteria:

  • I can identify the context of a text.
  • I can make predictions about events and ideas based on intertextual connections.
  • I can explain how an audience’s expectations can affect the message of a text.
  • I can consider context when creating a story with a twist.


Essential knowledge:

For more information about messages in texts, view The School Magazine’s video on Theme.

For more information about context, view The School Magazine’s video on Context.

For more information about related texts, view The School Magazine’s video on Intertextuality.


Oral language and communication:

As a class, do a mind map on the board on everything students know about genies. Students might connect Aladdin, oil lamps, wishes and deserts to the topic. Ask students what sort of lessons and morals are associated with stories about genies, for example, be careful what you wish for.


Understanding text:

Read Just Junk with the class up to page 23, stopping at the line:

And genies weren’t real anyway, right?

Without letting students read any further, ask:

- Who is this text written for? (Students)

- How does your knowledge of genies change the way you read this story? (They can make predictions based on their knowledge of genies)

- What do you predict will happen? (Students may expect Zac or his gran to discover a genie and be imprisoned, or receive three wishes)

- How do you know? (Students will be making their predictions based on their knowledge of genie stories and narrative arcs)

- What sort of message do you expect this story to have? (They may assume the story’s theme to be about being careful what you wish for)

- What do you think definitely won’t happen? (Answers will vary)

- Why?

- What are some alternative predictions? (Answers will vary – encourage students to think deeper about where else this narrative arc might go)


Continue reading the story until the end. Ask:

- Did you predict the ending?

- What surprised you?

- How did the text use your prior knowledge and context to surprise you? (They thought they knew what to expect, but the story worked out differently)

- What do you think the message of this story is? (Sample answer: Be grateful for what you have instead of wishing for things you don’t.)

- Do you think your context and prior knowledge helped the message make a bigger impact? (Answers will vary)


Creating text:

Explain that students will be writing their own narrative based on a well-known story or myth, but their stories will have a surprise ending similar to Just Junk. Explain that having characters in the story who are already aware of the mythology will mean they make different choices within the narrative that may save them.

Brainstorm a varied list of stories on the board including fairytales, fables and Dreamtime stories studied in class. Ensure students consider the following questions as they plan their narrative:

- How will knowing the story/myth help your characters?

- How can you change the ending to surprise a reader who already has certain expectations?

- How will your theme/message differ from the original story?


Some examples:

- Little Red Riding Hood already knows about the wolf so she dresses up as the woodsman and tricks him instead

- Snow White already knows the apple is cursed and bakes an apple pie to serve to the witch

- A vampire is trying to be invited into someone’s house, but the characters know to chase him away with garlic


Assessment for/as learning:

Students use the following checklist to assess their writing:

- Do readers know what story/myth my narrative is based off?

- Do readers have expectations on how the story is going to go?

- Do my characters know the story?

- Have my character’s actions changed the ending?

- Can I explain the message of my story/myth to a peer?


Students can also use The School Magazine’s assessment and evaluation marking rubric to guide their writing.