Saving The World

story by John O'Brien , illustrated by David Legge

Learning intentions:

I am learning to identify characters’ motivations so that I can create more complex characters in my writing.

Success criteria:

  • I can identify characters’ motivations through their interactions in the text.
  • I can use textual information to make predictions about a character based on the information in the story.
  • I can use this information to make connections to myself and others.

Essential knowledge:

More information about developing complex characters can be found in the English Textual Concepts video Character.


While reading the text, pause on page 22 after the sentence:

“And Simon chucks rubbish everywhere.”

Ask students for their thoughts on Dingo and ask them for textual evidence to support their opinion. Like Simon, some may find Dingo annoying. Others may recognise his passion for protecting the environment, using context clues such as him being upset about:

  • Finding a cigarette butt on the beach
  • Their dad driving a ‘huge gas guzzler’
  • Their mum not recycling
  • Simon throwing rubbish everywhere
  • The car driving dangerously polluting the air

Pause on page 24 after the sentence “When I get back, I’ll find a cool and green pollution-free planet – filled with living things.” Ask students for their thoughts on how the world was now saved. Without confirming whether any of their predictions are correct, continue reading the rest of the story.

Once finished, discuss with students the contrast between the impression Simon has of his little brother throughout most of the story, and how this changes with his realisation that he would go on to do great things.

Discuss the fact that important figures in history who are credited with ‘saving the world’ were once kids who probably annoyed their siblings, ran around the school playground, and had their own childhood interests that sometimes inspired their work in adulthood.

Read the following real-world examples to the class:

  • Maurice Hilleman grew up playing with chickens on his uncle’s farm and was the little brother to eight older siblings. Thanks to his experience as a child in learning about viruses that were incubated in eggs, he went on to save an estimated eight million people per year through the development of life saving vaccines.
  • Norman Borlaug grew up the only brother to his three sisters and attended a tiny school that only had one teacher and one room. He also worked on the family farm and helped grow corn and oats. He went on to be credited with saving a billion lives worldwide by developing a disease-resistant strain of wheat that could be grown in different climates. This provided developing nations with a steady food source as well as a product they could export to other countries for profit.
  • Tu Youyou missed two years of school due to illness, while her four brothers continued to attend. However, her illness inspired her to go to medical school. Through her education and research, including the study of traditional methods ancient Chinese medical texts, Youyou developed a cure for Malaria, saving millions of lives.

Students should use their analysis of Dingo after reading the story to produce ideas about what kind of work he might go on to do to ‘save the world’. Using their ideas, they should create a biographical profile of him as an adult.

This profile should include:

Name: ( Remind students that althought he is referred to as Dingo throughout the story, his real name is Tom.

Early life: (2-3 sentences about his childhood, including where he grew up, who his family was and what his interests were.

Education: 1-2 sentences about what he studied and where.

Achievements: 3-4 sentences about his discoveries and accomplishments

Students may also write a reflection paragraph of how they might contribute to ‘saving the world’. This should relate to their personal interests, passions or knowledge.


Character Profile