The Meridian of Wonkiness

part one of a two-part story by Geoffrey McSkimming , illustrated by Peter Sheehan

Learning intention:  

I am learning to exchange ideas and understanding with my peers so that I can make more informed predictions. 


Success criteria: 

  • I can use comprehension strategies to determine the meaning of unfamiliar words 
  • I can exchange ideas with my classmates based on the information in an imaginative text 
  • I can use my prior knowledge and my new understanding of information to make predictions 


Essential knowledge: 

For more information on how we use our own knowledge and experience to interpret ideas and make predictions, see the English Textual Concepts video, Context. 

Before beginning the story, ask students to predict what the story may be about based on the title. Discuss whether any students know the meaning of the words ‘meridian’ or ‘wonkiness.’ Explain that you will revisit these words' meaning later in the lesson. 

Have students read the story, or if you have a digital subscription, play the audio recording, and ask them to follow along. Students should make note of unfamiliar words in the story as they are reading. Once the story has finished, ask them which words they made note of and write each one on the board. These may include: 

  • meridian 
  • wonkiness 
  • zephyr 
  • starboard 
  • qualities 
  • encircle 
  • climactic 
  • turbulence 
  • mechanism 
  • trifle 
  • gurglings 
  • plummeting 
  • clambered 

Remind students to use their comprehension strategies to determine the meaning of these words, such as: 

  • Looking for context clues 
  • Identifying parts of the word that you know (e.g. circle in encircle) 
  • Making connections to familiar words (e.g. climactic to climate) 

Have a class discussion about the meaning of the words on the board. Go through each one at a time and allow students to share their knowledge of the meanings, or take guesses based on their comprehension strategies. Finally, have them work with a partner and consult the dictionary for any words that are left following the discussion. 


Discuss the meaning determined for the word meridian and display the Merriam-Webster Dictionary page for the definition of magnetic meridian. Discuss how this links to the text and what this may mean for the characters in the story. Ask students to look for clues as to what may be happening to them, particularly in Vern’s explanation to Jools on page 11. Examples from the text may include: 

  • It affects the natural order of things 
  • Things can get thrown off kilter 
  • All sorts of unusual things can happen 
  • Once you’ve cleared it, things soon get back to normal 

Based on this information, ask students to consider the questions at the end of the text: 

  • What on earth is happening on the deck of the Cumulus? 
  • Where is all the commotion coming from? 

Hold a class discussion to allow students to put forward their ideas about what may be going on in the final scene. Each student should then write 1-2 sentences in their book predicting what will happen in the next instalment.