29 February 2008Add to My Folder
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Anthony Horowitz is one of the UK’s most popular children’s authors. His successful novel Stormbreaker has a boy-friendly, James Bond style plot, centring on 14-year-old Alex Rider, who is transformed from schoolboy to super-spy.
In this extract from Chapter 6, Alex meets Smithers, who equips him with secret weapons. The text provides a useful opportunity to explore the use of dialogue, while the additional on-screen film clips allow for comparison of dialogue in text and film.
Shared learning and teaching
- Discuss spies. If possible, watch a spy movie extract. Elicit typical words/phrases as a spidergram. Do the children know an author who writes stories in this style? Elicit Anthony Horowitz and explore his work.
- Tell the children that they are going to read an extract from the novel, Stormbreaker. Talk about the film explaining that they will compare the extract and corresponding film clip.
- Before reading, ask what might be the most interesting or exciting thing about being a spy. Include the use of gadgets/secret weapons.
Ideally, children should have some understanding of: the James Bond stories; how writers use their own experiences in their writing (see the Anthony Horowitz Author Profile ); the basic presentation of dialogue.
The book extract
- Share read the extract. Explore how dialogue is presented and helps portray the characters’ personalities. What does the line ‘I’m too old for toys’ tell us about Alex Rider? Which phrases tell the reader that Mrs J is in control (she signalled and a man appeared, Mrs Jones demanded).
- Explore the presentation of dialogue – placing of speech marks, commas, new line for a new speaker, etc.
- After reading, make notes, possibly in a grid, detailing the three characters, their appearance and personalities; the setting and the objects given to Alex.
The film clip
- Watch the film clip. Compare with the book, writing notes in a different colour on the grid. How did the images envisaged when reading the extract compare with those in the film?
- Discuss how camera angles focus attention on aspects of the scene – eg, the workings of the gadgets or Smithers’ response to Alex’s questions/comments. How does an author provide this focus in written text? Discuss punctuation of dialogue.
Group and guided work
- Invite groups, as scriptwriters, to annotate the book extract in preparation for performing and filming the scene using digital cameras. Make clear notes on camera angles, lighting, zooming in and out for dramatic effect, etc.
- Watch the interviews with Stephen Fry, Alex Pettyfer and Anthony Horowitz. Each gives their view on character, plot, inspiration and the gadgets used in the film. There is no interviewer. Create a list of questions which they may have been given.
Key learning outcomes:
- Perform a scripted scene and comment on a performance;
- Use and recognise impact of theatrical effects;
- Make notes on a text/use evidence to explain ideas/preferences;
- How a common theme is presented in prose/film;
- Experiment with narrative form to write spy stories;
- Use speech marks in dialogue.
Further reading and useful website:
www.anthonyhorowitz.com – official website
Read and Respond – Stormbreaker Huw Thomas (Scholastic, ISBN 9781407100418)
- Use the activity sheet below to explore ideas for a suitable gadget for Alex. Use the sheet as inspiration for writing an extra scene for the book or movie in which Smithers calls Alex back to his office to present him with one more gadget. Work with a response partner to edit and use IT to present for display.
- Look back at the film clip to explore the language of persuasion used by Smithers. Try to include this in the stories/script.
- Use the SAT style activity sheet below to assess understanding of the text. This can be peer-marked and answers discussed.
- In reading journals, record views of the book and film extracts. Are the children inspired to read Stormbreaker or other books by Horowitz?
- Discuss the comparisons between the film and book extracts, considering the reasons for any differences. Is it better to see the film before reading the book or vice-versa?
- Watch the children’s own films. Comment on ideas, camera angles, lighting, etc.
- Invite children to sell their idea for a new secret weapon to the class.