Night of the Sand People

story by Paul Malone , illustrated by Lesley McGee

Learning Intention: 

I am learning how to identify the type of narrator in a story so that I can understand how point of view creates a personal or distant relationship with the reader. 

Success Criteria: 

  • I can compare the use of narrator in two texts with a similar subject matter and plot.  
  • I can explain how different types of narrators evoke stronger or weaker emotional responses from the reader.  
  • I can express a personal preference for types of narrators.  

Essential Knowledge:

More information about the position from which a text should be perceived can be found in the English Textual Concepts video Point of View. 

Read the story as a class, or if you have a digital subscription listen to the audio recording. Discuss how students feel after the conclusion of the story. You may wish to collate and display answers on interactive software such as Mentimeter. 

Next, read Raymond Brigg’s novel “The Snowman”. (You may wish to watch a YouTube recording of the novel: The Snowman by Raymond Briggs with Music & EFX.) Again, ask students to record their initial emotional response to the story. Prompt them to consider whether they found this story more or less emotional and why.  

Present students with a Venn Diagram divided into three sections. In the top section, compare and contrast the plot of the two narratives (Night of the Sand People and The Snowman). In the middle section compare and contrast the structure and form of the narratives.  

Finally, in the bottom section, compare and contrast the point of view of the two narratives. Spend the most time on this level of discussion. Introduce students to the concept of a third person limited narrator. This type of narrator is not a character in the story, but is an observer who is watching events unfold. Third person limited means that they can see what is happening, but not peek inside characters’ heads (this is omniscient). Ask students to identify which of the two texts has a third person limited narrator (Night of the Sandpeople). Explain that in “The Snowman” we see all events from the point of view of James, the young boy. This means that Raymond Briggs has used first person narrator.  

Using a table (suggested formatting below) instruct students to consider the benefits and detriments of different types of narrators. Some possible answers are included.  

Third Person Limited Narrator
Advantages Disadvantages

Can give lots of information on a range of characters. 

Allows the narrator to focus on events and actions while the reader can speculate about emotions. 

Prevents the reader from developing a close relationship with a character.  

May make a story less emotionally impactful.  

First Person Narrator
Advantages Disadvantages

Narrator and reader can develop a close relationship. 

Spend more time with one character. 

Can see what someone is feeling as well as what they are doing. 

Limits the amount of information in the story. 

You only get to see one side of the story. 

Might have questions about the other characters. 


Assessment as/of learning:  

To conclude the activity, conduct a class poll (another feature of Mentimeter) on which type of narrator students prefer. Call on volunteers to justify their choice. On the next library visit, students can locate a variety of texts written from the point of view of a third person and first person narrator.