The Children of Yesterday

written by John O'brien , illustrated by Queenie Chan

Learning intention:

I am learning to make predictions based on various sources so that I can be more conscious of the way my knowledge and understanding is informed by different texts.

Success criteria:

  • I can identify aspects of the text that may give clues about what will happen further in the story
  • I can use my prior knowledge of this sub-genre to make predictions
  • I can make notes of my predictions and check them against the story’s next instalment.


Essential knowledge:

Information about identifying and using the conventions of a literary genre can be found in the English Textual Concepts video Genre.


After reading the story, discuss students’ knowledge and understanding of time travel through other stories that include this concept, such as:

  • A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle (book and movie)
  • The Magic Treehouse by Mary Pope Osborne (book series)
  • Back to the Future (movie trilogy)

Once answers have been given, point out how we come to know time travel tropes from different sources within the same genre. Explain that tropes are recurring themes and conventions within literature. If you have a digital subscription, the interactive activity can be used to highlight this point. Discuss the fact that popularity can become a form of authority on a subject and the tropes of a genre can inform our writing and understanding of stories within that same genre.

Based on their prior knowledge and the first instalment of The Children of Yesterday, ask students to use textual evidence from the story to suggest who Jacques may be and how he came to be in the same place as Matthew for just one day. Suggestions may include:

  • Matthew described his surfing as effortless, even though the waves were quite big. This may suggest he has strong familiarity with the area.
  • He accurately predicts the exact time and location of the shooting stars. This may suggest having psychic abilities or having had the same experience before.
  • Jacques disappeared after one day. This may suggest he travels through time or different places.
  • Matthew couldn’t locate Jacques in the beach, the bush or the village, suggesting he had completely disappeared from the area.
  • Matthew found evidence that Jacques had been in multiple places on January 6th, suggesting he had experienced the same date repeatedly.


Based on their ideas and textual evidence, students should make predictions about what will be revealed in the next instalment of the story and write them down. This may be in bullet points or paragraph form and each student should then be given up to one minute to make their argument for what they believe will happen next and provide reasons for their prediction.

The notes for each students’ argument should be kept until the next issue is received so that they can be checked against the next instalment.