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Shadows: City Eye

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By Paul Blum (Rising Stars Shadows series, 978 18468 04571)

This leaflet, adapted from the graphic novel City Eye in the Shadows series (Rising Stars), is made up of a series of illustrations, with the original text removed. The powerful black and white images have great boy appeal and can be interpreted in different ways to provoke questions and discussion.


These teachers’ notes accompany the PRINT ONLY guided reading leaflet in Literacy Time PLUS Ages 9 to 11, March 2009.

Before reading

  • Lead a discussion about ‘What is reading?’ List different text types that children encounter in everyday life. Remember to include screen texts, such as TV dramas and commercials, as well as computer games, text messaging and websites. Divide the list into narrative and non-narrative – those that tell a story and those that provide information – eg, a sports report or a bus timetable.
  • Talk about the key features of graphic novels: images, captions, speech and thought bubbles, short descriptions, scene setting, etc. Discuss their growing popularity.

During reading

  • Read the title of the leaflet. What image does it create? Is it appealing? Why/why not?
  • Read the first image. How do we know who is the main character? What do we know about him? What is the setting? What is he looking at? What is he thinking?
  • What is happening in the second frame? Who is in the foreground? What is the box? Point out what is happening to the reader. They are being drawn into the narrative by making decisions and assumptions.
  • Read the rest of the images, asking similar questions and making sure to scan the text carefully for additional information, such as what the bystanders are thinking. Value all contributions, as there are no right or wrong answers.

Previous learning

Children will need to: be able to use a range of oral techniques to present persuasive arguments and engaging narratives; use drama to explore issues and interpret behaviour from different viewpoints; compare narrative texts and identify their structure; use settings/characterisation to engage readers’ interest.

Key learning outcomes:

Year 5

  • To work in role to explore complex issues;
  • To infer writers’ perspectives from what is written/implied;
  • To try out different narrative types to write their own stories.

Year 6

  • To use drama to explore theme;
  • To understand underlying themes, causes, points of view;
  • To use narrative techniques to engage/entertain the reader.

Responding to the story

  • Experiment with different possibilities. Could the main character be the villain? Who wins the fight? Could the package contain something else?
  • What might happen next? What happened before?
  • Discuss the possible issues that the narrative suggests. Terrorism: What leads people to perform acts of violence? Could they ever be justified? Public responsibility: When is it right to step in? Is the main character being a hero or a fool? What should you do in real life? Who would you turn to if you saw something suspicious? Stress the importance of seeking help from a uniformed person in a position of authority.
  • Using examples from television dramas or advertising campaigns, point out that narrative texts are able to deal with serious issues in an accessible way.
  • Talk about how to present the written text through the use of captions, speech bubbles, single words, sound effect flashes etc. What information will be necessary to inform the reader and move the narrative on?

Further reading

City Eye by Paul Blum (Rising Stars shadows series, 978 18468 04571). Interest age 10+; reading age 6-7. Starchasers series – David Orme (Ransom Publishing, various ISBNs) Science fiction series with a modern Manga twist. Ideal for boys aged eight to 14, but with a reading age of 8-9.

Ideas for writing

  • Encourage the class and individuals to decide how they would like to use the text – for oral storytelling, as a storyboard for a short film or drama, as a starter for extended writing or to produce a comic book or graphic novel. If possible, allow them to pursue their chosen option.
  • Produce a similar graphic text to inform the public what to do if they see something suspicious.
  • Tell the story from the point of view of the mother. What did she see, think and feel? What did she think was in the package? What happened next?
  • Use the activity sheet below to encourage readers to think about all the different texts they engage with over a short period, such as a weekend. Use this as the basis of a reading display. Encourage others, including staff members, to add their reading materials to the display.