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Bird of Paradise

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By David Clayton — Author

This original short story by David Clayton has great boy appeal. Set in Brazil, it centres on two top footballers who accept a challenge to play a match against a team of young boys from a poor village up in the mountains. One of the boys turns out to be a really talented player who will one day become a sporting superstar.


These teachers’ notes refer to the PRINT ONLY version of the guided reading leaflet available in Literacy Time PLUS for Ages 9 to 11, May 2008 issue.

Before reading

  • Find out if the children have read a story set in another country before.
  • Locate Brazil on a map. Show pictures of different areas of Brazil and explain what it is like to live there.
  • Discuss their favourite football teams, favourite players, why they are good, etc. Do any of them think they could beat their favourite player in a game?

Reading and responding

  • Read up to: ‘Within two hours it was sorted’. What is the first impression of Falcon? Why was João worried about going? What do you think will happen when the footballers meet Bird?
  • Read up until “You’ll be ready to come back by then!” What do you think the pilot means by this? How does Falcon persuade Carlos?
  • Make notes about Falcon’s feelings and thoughts as you read the story.
  • What does the area the footballers land in suggest about the standard of the young boys’ lives? How might this make the professional players think they will win?

Previous learning

Children should be used to: supporting views with evidence; interpreting behaviour from different viewpoints in role play; developing scripts based on improvisation; deducing characters’ reasons for behaviour from their actions; exploring how writers use language for effect/description.

  • Find phrases that suggest Falcon may not be confident about winning? Why does Falcon’s face go red?
  • Discuss how the writer builds up tension, finding particular phrases.
  • How does Falcon’s opinion of Bird change by the end of the story? Who is the most noble character and why?
  • Discuss the children’s likes/dislikes about the story. Ask for reasons for their opinions and suggestions for improvements to the story. Which is the most exciting part? Why?
  • From whose point of view is the story told? How does this affect our interpretation?

Ideas for writing

  • Retell a section of the story from Bird’s point of view, building up tension as the original story does.
  • Investigate the suffixes beginning with vowels in the text (eg, intrigue/intrigued). Discuss how root words may be altered before adding the suffix. Define rules for adding suffixes.
  • Script the conversation between Falcon and Bird, using scriptwriting conventions. Alternatively, script an improvised conversation in which characters try to persuade each other.
  • Write an imaginary biography about Falcon or Bird, using the activity sheet.
  • Write player interviews in the style of a football magazine or fan website.
  • Research Brazil and its football team and display the information found.

Key learning outcomes:

To analyse the use of persuasive language;

To make notes and use evidence from a text to explain events or ideas;

To infer writers’ perspectives from what is written and what is implied;

To use prediction and empathy in exploring the meaning of texts;

To experiment with different narrative form and styles to write stories.

Speaking and listening

  • In pairs, persuade one another to do something (positive/non-threatening).
  • Compare methods of persuasion to those of Falcon.
  • Act out the football game, with children taking turns to commentate. Freeze sections of the game to ask the characters questions during the match.
  • Interview players before and after the game (see _Literacy Time PLUS Ages 9 to 11_May Issue, Poster 2 for ideas).


  • Review children’ feelings about the story and characters.
  • Watch their performances of their improvisations and identify the persuasive techniques used.
  • Swap biographies with other children to check and edit, using pre-arranged success criteria.
  • Perform the football scene and commentary to the rest of the class. Interview the ‘crowd’ to get their opinions on the game and players.
  • Review how you have used the story as a starting point for other tasks. Discuss how the tasks developed; how the pieces of writing were different from the original text; and how the speaking and listening tasks have helped develop their understanding of the characters.



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