The Waggling of Keithus (Part 2)

part two of a two-part story by Geoffrey McSkimming , illustrated by Gabriel Evans

Learning intention:

I am learning to use appropriate metalanguage so I can present a point of view of literary texts.


Success criteria:

  • I can identify narrative conventions that engage an audience in a text.
  • I can analyse characterisation in a text.
  • I can use metalanguage to give a personal response to a text.


Essential knowledge:

  • More information about narrative conventions can be found in the English Textual Concepts video Narrative.
  • More information about character can be found in the English Textual Concepts video Character.


While reading the story, students work in pairs to make note of what questions might arise for the reader. For example, page 5 emphasises the mystery of the stranger, giving him odd clothes and an unexplained silence. Students might write things like:

  • Who is this stranger?
  • Why is he wearing Roman centurion clothes?
  • Why won’t he talk?

During the last part of the story, students will find they have less questions, as the author has answered everything through dialogue.


Ask students if they were compelled to keep reading throughout the story, and what techniques the author used to engage them. Students might recognise that presenting mysterious circumstances makes the reader want to find out what’s going on. Explain that:

  1. This narrative convention is called tension.
  2. As this is a mystery story, the tension comes from the characters and readers discovering the truth together.
  3. When the characters are curious to find out answers, the reader will be too.

Ask students to evaluate whether this technique worked to engage them by:

  • Thumbs up, definitely
  • Thumbs down, not at all
  • Thumbs middle, sort of


Students draw a table in their books detailing the narrative conventions of:

  • Characters (Mr Erasmus, Sylphie, the automaton)
  • Setting (Mr Erasmus’s library)
  • Complication (thunking in the library)
  • Resolution (automaton got stuck)


Ask students what they’ve inferred from the text about the characters Mr Erasmus and Sylphie. Encourage them to use quotes to show their reasoning. For example, students might say Mr Erasmus is educated because he knows about automatons and uses words like ‘perhaps’. They might also decide he’s brave because he approached the automaton even though he was frightened. For Sylphie, they might point out she uses words like ‘buster’, which shows she’s probably younger and more brazen. If you have a digital subscription, complete the interactive activity Characterisation in Illustration.


Students write a paragraph reviewing the text, using opinionated language (e.g., I think… I believe…) and metalanguage discussed in the lesson to explain their reasoning. An example paragraph is below.


The Waggling of Keithus (Part Two), written by Geoffrey McSkimming and illustrated by Gabriel Evans, was an enjoyable tale with high tension to engage the reader. The cool and calm characterisation of Mr Erasmus made me feel safe despite the high tension, while the inquisitive nature of Sylphie encouraged me to be keen to know the answers to the mysterious stranger. I also liked that it was set in a library, as personally I love libraries. The resolution was a little confusing to me, as I didn’t understand why anyone would make an automaton to bash salt, but otherwise, I think it was a great read.


Extension: If you completed the learning resource from last issue, compare the events of the story with the students’ predictions to see if anyone correctly guessed what was going to happen.