Little Otter's Great Escape

article by Kate Walker , illustrated by Michel Streich

Learning intention:

I am learning to use evidence from the text to identify the text type so that I can compare it with an article on the same story.


Success criteria:

  • I can identify the features of an article
  • I can identify the features of a creative non-fiction
  • I can compare the features of creative non-fiction and articles


After reading the article as a class, ask students to decide whether it is fiction or non-fiction and give reasons for their answers. Students may assume it’s fiction because of the narrative structure. Guide them to the facts and dates given in the text. Ask whether they think the headings are subheadings or chapter titles. If they firmly believe the text is non-fiction, ask if it’s an article or a story. Allow them to discuss their thinking without giving them any answers yet.


View the NZ Herald article Missing Otter Found. They can use Google maps to plot out Jin’s journey.


Ask students to identify the features of an article. Using their worksheets, they should be able to list:

- Title that sums up the story

- First line or paragraph gives the main information

- Experts consulted

- Quotes

- Dates and places


Have students study the text Little Otter’s Great Escape. Ask them to find similarities between that and the NZ Herald article. They can use Jennifer Findley’s Paired Passage Graphic Organizers as a worksheet (page 15 is a suitable template). Students should note that there are a lot of similarities, except that the title from The School Magazine doesn’t reveal everything about the story. Now ask them to identify the features of Little Otter’s Great Escape, and how it differs from the NZ Herald article. Students should note:

- the end of the story is not given away at the start of Little Otter’s Great Escape

- it begins with the otters’ perspective

- it is written with narrative tension

- it includes a lot more information than the article

- it uses exclamation marks


Ask students if these features remind them of any other text types. They should identify that it is more like a narrative, but it still has factual information. Explain that this kind of writing is called creative non-fiction, or narrative non-fiction. Ask if they can think of any other times they have come across creative non-fiction. They might identify:

- personal recounts

- biopics

- memoirs

- food and travel writing