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The Roar

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By Emma Clayton

An extract from Chapter 15 of The Roar by Emma Clayton. This fast-paced sci-fi novel centres on MIka’s search for his 12-year-old twin, Ellie. In the chosen extract, Mika and his friend Audrey take part in a virtual reality game.

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

Background information

The Roar was Emma Clayton’s debut novel. It centres on 12-year-old twins, Mika and Ellie. They live in a future behind a wall – safe from the plague animals beyond, yet struggling to survive in cities so overcrowded that they have been built in layers, with the poor banished to the dark and damp depths at the lowest levels. But then Ellie disappears and Mika is the only one who believes she is still alive. To find her he has to take part in a sinister virtual reality game in which he begins to discover that their concrete world is built on lies… lies spun by a government who, 30 years ago, conspired to save the planet, but only for a chosen few.

In this extract from Chapter 15, Mika and his friend Audrey are taking part in a competition in the virtual reality game. This involves sitting inside a spaceship-like pod, and flying in virtual space, shooting enemy craft.

The Roar by Emma Clayton

Before reading

  • Revise the term science fiction and this genre’s characteristics.
  • Give the extract’s context. What genre does this story fit into?
  • Predict other features which you might find in the story.
  • Write the words simulators, verify, visor, icon, hangar, reciprocal on cards and predict their meaning.

Reading and responding

  • Read the first paragraph. Discuss the ‘cause and effect’. How does it set the scene for what is to come? What might it be like to enter the games room?
  • Quickly scan the text. What are the features of this extract? Elicit ‘the use of dialogue’. How can we tell this from the layout? Discuss speech marks, speech words, etc. Discuss how the use of dialogue helps to move the story on.
  • Ask the children to mark where the extract gets exciting. Use these to discuss what we are told about the characters’ feelings at these points – eg, Audrey gritting her teeth or Mika’s hands beginning to sweat. Discuss why authors give their readers these insights.

Further reading and FREE online resources

The Roar by Emma Clayton (Chicken House, 978 19052 94633). A review of The Roar. The opening of The Roar.

After reading

  • If you were to create a storyboard for this extract, how many sections would the storyboard have?
  • Locate the line, ‘Remember the game’s not timed…’. Why is an apostrophe used in game’s? Scan the text to find other words with an apostrophe. Are they used for the same reason? Discuss the letters replaced by the apostrophe.
  • Use the SAT-style comprehension sheet below to assess understanding of the extract.
  • Write this sentence on the board: ‘They climbed into the cockpit, lit up the control panel and put their headsets on, adjusting them to fit comfortably.’ Use the example to discuss embedded clauses. Can the children think of a different clause to insert into the sentence?

Ideas for writing

  • Read the opening chapter from The Roar, available to download from the Literacy Time PLUS website. This extract features Mika’s sister, Ellie, as she tries to escape her captors and return home. Compare the two extracts – eg, Ellie is flying a real pod fighter; Mika is in a simulator. How effective is this as a story opening? Would it make you want to read on? Invite the children to write what they think may have happened between Chapters 1 and 15. How do they think Audrey has become involved in the search for Ellie?
  • Imagine that Mika and Audrey enter one of the other arcade games rooms. How different would they be? After brief planning, write the opening chapter of a new story, with the objective of setting up the atmosphere. Do the children want their readers to feel a serious, strange or laid back atmosphere?
  • Discuss how to write a response to the text. Do they want to find out more about the characters and their search for Ellie? Will they be looking for the book in the school or local library?
  • Copy out the words from the extract that use apostrophes for contraction. Add to the list any others you can think of, then decide on the rule for joining such words.
  • Draw a picture of Mika, labelling it with words/phrases from the text which help convey his character.

Literacy Framework

See the Using this issue chart to identify the Learning Objectives covered by these activities, to track progression from Year 4 through to Year 7, and to identify links with Year 5 and 6 Planning Units.

Plenary

  • Revisit your word cards. Look these words up in dictionaries. Compare what you thought the words meant with the dictionary definitions. Celebrate successes and get the children to use the words in spoken sentences.
  • Listen to the children’s opening paragraphs about entering another games room. Compare them and discuss how the children created atmosphere in their writing.

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