Review + Teachers’ Notes: ‘ Girl on Wire’

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Title: ‘Girl on Wire’
Author:  Lucy Estela
Illustrator: Elise Hurst
Publisher: Penguin Books Australia 
Age Range: 5+ (ageless)
Themes: courage, resilience, emotional wellbeing, support, self-esteem
Awards: CBCA Book of the Year Awards 2019: shortlisted Picture Book

Click on title links or cover image to purchase.

‘Girl on Wire’ is a simple yet brilliantly uplifting allegory of a young girl struggling to build her self-esteem and overcome the anxiety that many children feel as they grow – she walks the tightrope, afraid she will fall, but with the support of those she loves, her toes grip the wire and she walks forward, on her own, with a new confidence.

A truly stunning production, ‘Girl on Wire’ places emotional health and wellbeing firmly in the spotlight, in an age appropriate manner. The oil painted illustrations of Elise Hurst’s are hauntingly beautiful and a perfect accompaniment for the Lucy Estela’s exquisite text. There is not much more to say –‘Girl on Wire’ is a must-have and you will be reading it for years.

Follow it Up in the Home, Classroom or Library

Teachers’ Notes prepared by teacher Melissa Kroeger for Children’s Books Daily in context with the Australian Curriculum.

Title: ‘Girl on Wire’
Author:  Lucy Estela
Illustrator: Elise Hurst

‘You are brave.

You are strong.

You can do anything.

You can be anything,

but it’s all up to you.’

 

KEY CURRICULUM AREAS:

  • English

 

GENERAL CAPABILITIES:

  • Critical and Creative Thinking
  • Literacy

 

DISCUSSION/STIMULUS: 

Even though this book can be read by all ages, I thought that its underlying message could possibly be understood more clearly by an older primary school audience. In these teachers notes I have focused the lesson at a Year 6 level. I believe these teaching ideas could provoke some amazing, powerful writing amongst your students. – Mel


Pre-reading

  1. Display the front cover and ask students what they think the book might be about.
  2. What does the title mean to you?
  3. Read the blurb. What do you think it means?
  4. Find out a little more about the author, Lucy Estela here:
  5. And a little more about the illustrator, Elise Hurst here:
  6. Discuss the following and ask for examples:
  • A metaphor:

The online Oxford Dictionary (2019) states that a metaphor is: ‘a figure of speech in which a word or phrase is applied to an object or action to which it is not literally applicable.’

  • Imagery:

The Australian Curriculum (2019) states that ‘A use of figurative language to represent objects, actions and ideas in such a way that they appeal to the senses of the reader or viewer.’

  • Language Features:

The Australian Curriculum (2019) states that ‘Features of language that support meaning (for example, sentence structure, noun group/phrase, vocabulary, punctuation, figurative language). Choices in language features and text structures together define a type of text and shape its meaning. These choices vary according to the purpose of a text, its subject matter, audience and mode or medium of production.’

  • Text structures:

Answers.com (2019) states that ‘Text structure is the manner in which information is organised and presented.’

  • Sentence variation

 

Read the book

  1. Ask students to pay attention to metaphors, imagery, language features, text structure and sentence variation for discussion after.
  2. Now give students a piece of paper and ask them to write the following with space in between:
  • metaphor
  • imagery
  • language features
  • text structure
  • sentence variation

3. Ask students to write down any of the above examples whilst you read the book again. Read it a third time if necessary. Students may prefer to work in small groups to collate all their findings.

 

ENGLISH –YEAR 6

Content Description: ACELT1800: Experiment with text structures and language features and their effects in creating literary texts, for example, using imagery, sentence variation, metaphor and word choice

Elaborations:

  • selecting and using sensory language to convey a vivid picture of places, feelings and events in a semi-structured verse form

 

ENGLISH –YEAR 6

Content Description:  ACELT1615: Identify and explain how choices in language, for example modality, emphasis, repetition and metaphor, influence personal response to different texts  

Elaborations:

  • noting how degrees of possibility are opened up through the use of modal verbs (for example, ‘It may be a solution’ as compared to ‘It could be a solution’), as well as through other resources such as adverbs (for example, ‘It’s possibly/probably/certainly a solution’), adjectives (for example, ‘It’s a possible/probable/certain solution’); and nouns (for example, ‘It’s a possibility/probability’)
  1. Discuss findings with students. Eg: ‘Who found a metaphor? What was it?’
  2. On large pieces of paper or the white board write down
    • metaphor
    • imagery
    • language features
    • text structure
    • sentence variation

    Ask students to write down their findings from the text reading under each heading.

  3. Discuss with students what the meaning of the book was? Did a girl actually walk on a wire? Was it a metaphor for something else? Do you think that her mother actually sent birds up to her? Wouldn’t that make her fall? Is it a metaphor for helping the girl along her way so she is not on her own?
  4. What imagery and figurative language was used within the book? Did you know that feathers are a symbol of hope and belief, hence people sending them up to the girl. What did the storm represent?
  5. What type of text is this and who would be the target audience? Did you know that the author, Lucy Estela suffered from crippling anxiety for many years. How do you think this book has been shaped by this?
  6. What was the text structure of this book? Why was it suited to this? How many different sentence variations did you find?

 

Activity:

  1. Write your own short story about someone or something (maybe an animal) who doesn’t want to do something but must with an underlying message like ‘Girl on Wire’. Could it be trying to ride a bike, climbing a mountain when afraid of heights etc.? What obstacles will they need to face? Include and underlying strong message in it like in ‘Girl on Wire’ – ‘You are brave. You are strong. You can do anything, but it’s all up to you’
    Include:

    • metaphor
    • imagery
    • language features
    • text structure
    • sentence variation
  2. Read your short story to a peer or teacher for feedback. Can you improve it? Was your message understood?
  3. In a supportive environment where all opinions are respected, read your short story to a small group or the class. Ask your peers what they think is the underlying message. Discuss the metaphor you are trying to convey in your story. Did your group/the class understand what your underlying story was about? Why? Why not? Does it matter if others understood something different in your story?
  4. Discuss modal verbs and how they could influence your short story eg: he could possibly achieve it/ it was possible to achieve it. Could you start your short story with a modal verb and end it with another one?

 

Take it further:

This links perfectly with the Learning Continuum of Personal and Social Capability, under the Australian Curriculum.

LEVEL 4 Personal and Social Capability (typically by the end of Year 6)

Sub-element: Recognise Emotions

  • explain how the appropriateness of emotional responses influences behaviour

Sub-element: Work independently and show initiative

  • assess the value of working independently, and taking initiative to do so where appropriate

Sub-element: Work collaboratively

  • contribute to groups and teams, suggesting improvements in methods used for group investigations and projects

 

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