Shining Stars

story by Philippa Werry , illustrated by Caitlin O’Dwyer

Learning Intention:

I am learning to read texts for specific purposes so that I can make informed evaluations about characters.


Success Criteria:

  • I can use information in a text to evaluate the personality of characters.
  • I can explain how characters grow and change in a text.
  • I can create character profiles based on the character’s dialogue, actions and relationships in a text.


Essential knowledge:

For more information about understanding character, view The School Magazine’s video on Character.


Oral language and communication

Explain to students that we can draw a lot of information about characters from what they do and say, and how other characters around them are behaving. If you have a digital subscription, you can complete the interactive activity Evaluating Characters.


Without allowing students to view the text, read aloud the first two paragraphs, up to “nobody heard.” Ask the class the following questions for application, analysis and evaluation.


- What do we know about the setting so far? (In a rocky stream)

- What character are we following? (Stella?)

- What does Stella say? (Yuck/I’m not going in there)

- What does the text say the other children are doing? (Shrieking, splashing, jumping from rock to rock)



- What can you infer about the other children’s feelings from their actions? Are they happy, frightened, sad? (They are playing, having fun, excited)

- Where do you think Stella is refusing to go? (The stream)

- Why? (She thinks it’s yucky)

- Why might Stella think the stream is yucky? (It could have dirt or leeches etc)



- Comparing the other children’s behaviour to Stella’s, what might you assume about Stella’s personality? (Answers may include: she is a clean person, doesn’t like to play, doesn’t like water, she’s outspoken, she’s not very fun etc)

- Think about a time you’ve played in a stream, river, ocean or pool. Did you have fun? Do you think you would be friends with someone who talks like Stella?


Understanding text:

Give students an opportunity to view the text and the first illustration. Read aloud up to the fifth paragraph where Stella says “smelly and spooky” and ask students what else they have learnt about the setting. Guide students towards identifying that the children are heading towards a cave rather than playing in a stream. Explain that information can change as a text progresses, which gives readers the opportunity to reflect on their previous assumptions and change their minds about prior judgements. Explain that the same can happen with characters in literary texts. Ask students to share any experiences they’ve had with a text, whether it be a movie, TV show or book, where they’ve changed their minds about a character during the narrative, and what new information led them to this change. Encourage them to think of surprise villains, cowardly characters who had a moment of bravery etc.


Continue to read the story out loud and have the students take notes on what other things they learn about Stella during the story. When the story’s finished, ask students to share their answers. Ask:

- Has your opinion changed on Stella?

- How do you think Stella has changed over the course of the story? Give examples from the text.

- Do you prefer the old Stella or the new one?


Creating text:

With input from the class, create a character profile on the board of Stella. Include a quick sketch, an outline of what she looks like, her backstory, her family, fears, motivations, favourite things and anything else you’d like to include. Though they are encouraged to use their creative license, students should use evidence from the text and illustrations where possible. For example, the fact that Stella wore plastic sandals on a trip to the cave tells us that she’s inexperienced with outdoor activities such as camping, and we might infer that she spends a lot of time watching TV or playing games.


Once you’ve formed a brief profile of Stella, explain that students will be creating their own profile of Stella’s brother Joey using the same strategies. Remind them to look at Joey’s actions and dialogue and his relationship with his sister to build a better idea of him. Ask students:

- How did you feel about Joey at the start of the story?

- What did he say or do to make you feel this way?

- Did your opinion of him change as the story went on? Why/why not?

- Did Joey learn anything about himself or change during the story in the same way as Stella? Why do you think this? (Students might recognise that Joey is not the main character of the story and therefore it isn’t necessary for his character to learn or change through the narrative.)


Assessment for/as learning:

Students can use the following checklist to evaluate their work:

- Have I given a description of Joey?

- Have I written his backstory, motivations, fears and family life?

- Have I used evidence from the text where possible?

- Have I used Joey’s actions, dialogue and relationship to Stella to inform my choices?