story by Jenny Robson , illustrated by Peter Sheehan

Identify and explain how the author portrays the appearance and culture of the protagonist.

After reading the story, students pair up and come up with an oral summary of the events. They can do this by following the guiding points below:

- Who was the main character? (An alien called Kqarg)

- What did they want? (To scout for a landing site on Earth in order to conquer it)

- What happened to prevent them from getting what they wanted? (He mistook New Year’s Eve fireworks for an attack)

- What was the result? (He flew away and told his commander to abord the mission)

Once pairs have come up with a summary, choose a few pairs to share their answers with the class.

Tell the class that the word alien is nowhere in the text and ask how they knew the story was about aliens. Answers may include using the illustrations, the arrival onto Earth via a spacecraft, the fact the protagonist had multiple heads, the use of thought-radio. Explain that this narrative technique is to show rather than tell. The author is showing the reader what is going on through the protagonist’s actions, dialogue, and motivations rather than simply stating information outright.

Students get into pairs and identify part of the text where the author has shown the reader what’s going on rather than tell them. They are looking specifically for quotes that hint at Kqarg’s appearance and culture. Explain that the reader has to work out what’s going on from their contextual understanding (inferring). They can fill out a table like the one below. Write the first answer on the board as an example.

Quote from the text:

Kqarg felt his fifth ear pop.

Literal Meaning:

1. The name uses strange spelling not recognised in any culture

2. The character has at least five ears

What this tells the reader:
  1. It is a story not set in the real world.
  2. The character is not a creature recognisable to the real world.