This post is the second part of an answer to a question about how you decide what to teach from a book. Part 1 looked at the process of deciding, part 2 considers what this looks like in the context of a book – How to make friends with a ghost by Rebecca Green.
This wonderful book is a helpful guide to becoming friends with a ghost. From ensuring you really do have a ghost to ghost care, this is an extended set of instructions that is a bit different.
The illustrations use muted colours with pops of red and are framed in lots of different ways, depending on the content. For example, when objects are listed, the illustrations are small, separate pictures. Some frames are bubble shaped, others rectangular. They really help focus on the image whereas the pages with no frames seem to have more of a balance between image and text.
The process of deciding what a book teaches is in three parts:
- What is your response to the book?
- How did the author make you feel like that?
- Collect examples of things the author did.
My first response to the book is that it feels like a real guide to looking after something – authoritative and believable.
To do this, the author has:
- Used the second person – you and your – making it feel as if the reader is being addressed directly. This is not just any ghost, it is YOUR ghost.
- Written in the present tense.
- The author, an expert in being friendly with ghosts, interjects and comments. “I recommend Spooky Jams by the Spiderz.”
- Used quotes from books and footnotes to create authenticity.
- Included a wide range of information. For example in the Ghost Care section there is information about feeding, activities, bedtime, hiding spots and hazards.
- Followed up commands with further detail. “Give your ghost a bedtime bath! I suggest warming water in a cauldron and blowing your own bubbles.”
- Organised the text into chapters with page banners for sub-headings.
The second element that I notice in the book is the clarity of the instructions.
To do this, the author has:
- Often used a single clause sentence which is then followed up with more detail. See 5 above but there are many examples of this. And occasionally this pattern is reversed “Putting your ghost to bed every night will ensure it sleeps soundly with plenty of nightmares! Ghosts love nightmares!”
- Used fronted adverbials, words, phrases and clauses, to tell the reader how or when, e.g. most of the time, simply, once the ghost knows you are friendly, instead of words.
- Used a wide range of multi-clause sentences containing and, when, if and present participles (-ing verbs such as putting).
And finally, the book is funny!
To create a sense of humor the author has:
- Used the illustrations to emphasise a point and sometime provide further information. The illustration for “Do not let your ghost help with the laundry!” shows us a dripping wet ghost out of the washing machine and a fluffy ghost out of the dryer.
- Mentioned bogies.
- Created ludicrous situations such as hiding your ghost in a tissue box or mistaking the ghost for fried eggs or marshmallows.
- A large part of the humor is provided by the fact that the book is written very authoritatively but about a fantastical idea.
So from this, the writing outcome for this book would be to write and illustrate an extended set of instructions that are authoritative, clear for the reader and funny. The numbered bullet points make up the success criteria which you would ‘discover’ with the children as you become familiar with the book.
There is a read-around pinterest board to go with this book. These are linked books that would be good to read to the class whilst using How to make friends with a ghost.