The Great Chicken Getaway

story by Marian McGuinness , | illustrated by David Legge

Learning intention:

I am learning to examine direct speech and indirect speech so that I can investigate how both types of speech impact the effectiveness of the text.

Success criteria:

  • I can identify instances of direct speech in a text.
  • I can translate direct speech into indirect speech.
  • I can evaluate the effectiveness of each type of speech in a text.

After reading The Great Chicken Getaway or listening to the audio recording, ask students to find examples of dialogue in the text. Students should recognise dialogue by the speech marks (or italics, in the instances of the chickens). Ensure students understand that everything contained in the speech marks are spoken aloud by the character and explain this is called direct speech.


Direct students’ attention to page 29 and the text:

Bucketty … buck … buck … buck … clucked Betty every night after the school

day had finished.

Bucketty … buck … buck … buck … clucked Babs, as they huddled high on their roosts, resting before the next day started.


Write the following on the board:

The two chickens clucked sleepily at each other as they huddled high on their

roosts, resting before the next day started.


Ask students to identify the difference between the two texts. Explain that the second text is indirect speech – that it is telling the reader what the chickens are saying rather than explicitly showing the dialogue.


Ask students which one they think works better for the text. Students who choose the direct dialogue may say it’s more fun and lets the reader know the characters better. Students who choose the indirect dialogue may argue that it gets the point across quicker.


Guide students to page 31 and have them find the dialogue:

‘Mummy, there are CHICKENS on the train!’ squealed a little boy, peering.

under his seat.


As a class, translate the direct speech into indirect speech. An example answer would be:

A little boy, peering under his seat, squealed that there were chickens on the



Ask students to evaluate the effectiveness of each dialogue here. Students might notice the urgency and mild humour has been lost with the indirect speech.

In pairs, students are to translate the other two direct pieces of human dialogue on this page into indirect speech.


Extension: Students translate the indirect speech of the ticket inspector mumbling into his phone into direct speech.


Compare answers throughout the class. Discuss the effectiveness of the indirect speech versus the direct speech. Students might notice the indirect speech loses some of its impact and takes the reader out of the scene.


Have students find other instances of the chickens clucking at each other. Ask how the text might change, if every piece of direct clucking speech changed to indirect speech. Ask students:

“What would occur to the characters likeability if we changed the direct speech to indirect speech?”

Note: Students might note the humour and likeableness of the characters would disappear without the direct speech. Direct speech engages the readers.


To finish, students create their own definitions of direct and indirect speech, as well as how it impacts the text.