Night Fishing

poem by Debra Tidball , illustrated by Marjorie Crosby-Fairall

Learning intention:

I am learning to identify the way words and visual techniques can complement each other in different types of storytelling so that I can use them effectively when creating visual stories.


Success criteria:

  • I can identify the way visual elements can enhance point of a text
  • I can recognise the way words can give more context to an illustration
  • I can combine illustration and visual elements with words to create a logical sequence of images.



Have students read through the poem and study the layout and illustration. Ask them to write down in point form aspects that they find unique or noticeable in this text and have them share their observations. Answers may include:


  • The text wraps around different shapes within the illustration
  • The text is separated into three sections of the illustration (behind the fish’s tail, along the fishing line and beneath the wharf, with the word ‘Dinnertime’ being adjacent to the fish’s mouth)
  • The pace of the poem changes as the action builds
  • Onomatopoeia (slurp, clank, splosh) as well as descriptive words (glowing, heavy) and phrases (silver scales flash, a fish flaps) are used to create imagery.


Discuss the way the combined use of the vocabulary and visual elements contribute to the sense of feeling and action in the story. Have the students turn to the back cover of the magazine and view the middle panel on the left side of the page. Ask what they notice about the way the creators use words and visual elements in these four pictures, such as the framing of the illustrations and the shape of the letters and lines to build stronger imagery for the reader. Answers may include:


  • The letters in the word ‘CHOP’ have sharp edges. The long, straight lines underneath and the distance of the cut leaves from the pineapple suggest the cut was hard and swift.
  • The long lines of the letters in ‘SLICE’ as well as the circular line next to the knife, which is plunged deep into the pineapple suggest Captain Congo has made a deep circular cut in the bottom of the pineapple.
  • The letters in the word ‘SHOVE’ along with the lines next to it are all angled downwards, drawing the readers’ attention to the note in the illustration that is being pushed into the pineapple.
  • The word ‘POP’ is very rounded and has small lines and pineapple juice, lending to the action and sound effect intended by the onomatopoeia of the word.


Allow time for students to read the rest of the Captain Congo instalment. Inform students they are going to create their own small visual text about night fishing. To do this they should draw four panels on a piece of paper or in their book in the style of a comic strip. Explain that the purpose of this activity is to use a combination of words and visual techniques, but the aspect of night fishing they choose to demonstrate this with is up to them. For example, they may show someone:


  • Heaving their equipment into a boat and using a torch to find their way out to the middle of a lake
  • Opening their tackle box and carefully baiting a hook
  • Reeling in a fish that has nibbled on the line.


Discuss what kind of words may be needed to accompany the illustrations in this type of story. These should only include speech or thought bubbles and action words or sound effects, such as onomatopoeia (e.g., ‘squelch’ when hooking the bait or ‘click’ when turning on the torch)


Students should have time to plan their comic strip so they can plan their ideas and the sequencing of panels. Once completed, students can share their visual texts with the class and explain their ideas.