Why My Name is Penny

story by Jenny Robson , illustrated by Amy Golbach

Learning intention:

I am learning to recognise how fictional aspects can be used in the telling of factual stories so that I can broaden my understanding of creative writing.

Success criteria:

  • I can identify factual aspects of a narrative by cross-referencing it with another source.
  • I can explain the purpose of using fictional elements to build a story around a factual event or character.
  • I can write a narrative that includes both fact and fiction.

Essential knowledge:

  • More information about writing narratives can be found in the English Textual Concepts video Narrative.

After reading the story, watch the video Alexander Fleming and the Accidental Mould Juice and ask students to identify parts from the text that match the video.

Explain that narratives often fill the unknown gaps of factual events with fictional elements. Familiar examples, such as Horrible Histories or My Place can be used to further illustrate this concept. Clarify that while we often know broadly about factual events, it’s usually impossible to know every detail, and therefore writers often fictionalise the finer details. This may include conversations between people involved in the event, or writers sometimes create fictional characters to demonstrate what may have been happening in the lives of people surrounding the event.

Using this concept, students should write their own story based on a factual occurrence that they already know about (although research and revision of facts and timelines may be required). Suggested events may include:

  • A life-changing invention
  • A scientific discovery
  • An important moment in history

Emphasise the way the author weaved the factual aspects of the story with the fictional elements to create the text. Students can reference the parts they have highlighted to assist them in how to do this.


Using the text as an example, remind students that their narrative should include:

Characters: Penny and her family members, Clara, Professor Fleming

Setting: London, almost 100 years ago.

Australia, present day.

Incident/rising action: Professor Fleming co-developed a medicine that would save thousands of lives, leading to a great deal of excitement from Great Grandma Olivia.

Complication: Olivia only had a son, but he promised he would call his daughter Penny, however he also only had sons.

Resolution: One of Victor's sons had a daughter and named her Penny.