Space Pirates

part one of a story by Duncan Richardson , illustrated by Greg Holfeld

Learning intention:

I am learning to use evidence from the text to identify elements of genre and anthropomorphism so that I can write a cross-genre story with an unexpected cast.

Success criteria:

  • I can identify specific elements of at least two genres
  • I can write a narrative using elements of two genres
  • I can define anthropomorphism
  • I can use elements of anthropomorphism to create and write about anthropomorphic characters


Before reading the story, read the title (Space Pirates) and ask students the following questions:

- What do you think it will be about?

- Where is a pirate story usually set?

- What kinds of events could happen in space?

- What do you expect the characters to be like?


Read the story as a class. Ask what surprised students about the story, and what happened that they expected. Explain that this sort of narrative is called cross genre, where the author has taken two separate genres – in this case, pirate adventure and space sci fi – and combined them. In this case, the author has also chosen to make the characters dogs. Discuss the word anthropomorphic and display the definition via an online dictionary such as Merriam-Webster.


Explain that students will be creating a cross-genre narrative with an unexpected cast. There are several ways for students to decide how they’ll select their two genres. They might already have one in mind (such as a sci fi fairy tale), they can use the Genre Picker from Word Wall to randomly generate two genres or they can choose a setting from a book they already know (e.g. Hogwarts) and write it in a different genre (e.g. zombie horror). Encourage students to choose genres they are familiar with, either because they’ve watched or read a lot of the genre or studied it in class. This will ensure they’ll have a better understanding of the possible narrative events. For a basic definition of the main genres, visit Literary Devices’ page on Genre and scroll down to the subheading Common Examples of Genre Fiction.


For the unexpected cast, students can use anthropomorphism to create their characters. They can have other animals, babies, moving plants, household items – anything that will surprise the reader. Remind students that their unexpected cast must have human characteristics, such as motivations, fears, ways of communicating and physical actions. Return to the original text for examples of how the dogs have wants and fears, but also act in a dog-like manner by scratching behind their ears or napping on the rug.


Students can plan out their narrative using class-specific frameworks, as long as they have a beginning, middle and end, with obstacles and a solution. If time, students can illustrate their stories.