The Missing Persons Case

story by Richard Brookton , illustrated by Tohby Riddle

Learning intention:

I can create a story that combines aspects of texts I have experienced in innovative ways.

Success criteria:

  • I can discuss ideas about an event
  • I can analyse a story to identify key features of the genre
  • I can compose a story featuring a crime
  • I can incorporate multimedia elements in a presentation of my story


Prior to the lesson, set up the following ‘clues’ by placing objects around the room:

  • a feather or a picture of one printed or displayed digitally
  • some bird seed or a picture of some
  • the lid of a pen scattered by the door

In addition to this, leave a window wide open in full view of the students.

Inform students that the following crime has been committed: your pencil case has gone missing.

Collaboratively examine the clues and discuss who might have come into the classroom and stolen your pencil case. Allow time for students to make suggestions of what may have happened and who the potential culprit might be. Suggested ideas might include:


  • a bird has flown in the window looking for birdseed and has stolen the pencil case
  • an animal has entered through the window and has eaten the pencil case
  • the pencil case has grown legs and has climbed out the window
  • a student has snuck through the open window and stolen it

Inform students that stories that focus on solving crimes are known as ‘detective stories’ and that they are an incredibly popular genre.

Read The Missing Persons Case. Discuss elements included in the story and note them on the board, including the following:

  • there is a victim of a crime or someone who has been wronged (Mrs. Lasky)
  • there is a suspect (Mr. Bracken) that turns out to be innocent
  • someone is investigating the crime (Dan Barlow)
  • the story features a misunderstanding about who is the true owner of the cat
  • there are clues that helps the characters solve the case (the sighting of the black and white cat in Mr. Bracken’s window, he has been keeping the cat inside due to it being unwell)


Discuss images and sounds that could be added to this story if it was converted to a multimedia presentation. For example: sounds of a cat meowing, a suspenseful tune when Dan and Alex begin the search, dramatic music when they spot the cat in Mr. Bracken’s window, fireworks or some celebratory images when they solve the case.

Tell students that they will be composing their own detective story.

Place students in pairs and instruct them to discuss their own ideas about who is responsible for the missing pencil. Instruct students to orally compose a brief story where a crime is believed to be committed. Tell students to use the list of elements on the board of what is featured in The Missing Persons Case to guide them with what to include in their own stories. Remind them to include the clues that were left around the classroom in their story.

Allow students access to digital technology and instruct them to create a multi-media presentation, using programs such as PowerPoint, to tell their story. Instruct students to insert images of the clues and sounds to create the mood into their presentation. Students can use audio search engines such as FindSounds to locate sound effects they can insert into their presentations.