Tales from the inner city by Shaun Tan


We took the orca from the sea and put it in the sky. It was just so beautiful up there, so inspiring. But the calls of the mother never stopped.

Every story in this compilation will make you think about the world we live in and the relationships we have with animals.

You will come across animals we have forgotten, places that once were and never will be again, animals that live within our urban environments and others that want to live with us. You meet animals with agendas  – and will come away from each story wondering how much you really know about the animals that are part of this world.

Each story is accompanied with an illustration which adds more depth. Each story is filled with ideas rather than character or plot development but leaves you wondering – how did we get here?

These stories and poems can just be read for pure enjoyment and reflection but they can also be pondered upon – with the question – Is this really it?

This book is for older readers to enjoy and think about how animals can save us, and how our lives are forever entwined, for better or for worse.

So what can be done in the classroom?

Animals & Sustainability

Look at the table of contents and explore the way this has been created. Research how humans have and do interact between the animals and themselves. Draw similarities between the animal and human.

Compare and contrast the living habitats of animals who dwell in urban and rural areas. Are there benefits to either way of living

Explore the collective nouns for each of these animals.

Literacy

Explore flash fiction / microstory about a chosen animal after reading one in Tan’s novel (crocodile, butterfly, snails, shark, cat sheep, hippos, orca)  

Explore the famous short story by Ernest Hemingway

Why is this a good story?

Explore how picture books can tell a story in less than 500 words.

What do they need? What don’t they need?

Flash fiction does not have images – or perhaps only one – so you will need to tell more but still not as much as a short story.

Advertisements

Amelia Ellicott’s Garden by Liliana Stafford and Stephen Michael King

Imagine a garden once loved and tended to but now falling into a state of disarray.

Imagine a neighbourhood which has changed from large houses to apartments.

Imagine a neighbourhood change from a mono culture to a multicultured place.

How would you feel?


Amelia Ellicott’s garden covers many different issues that come up in our society.

Multiculturalism, racism, loneliness, friendship, buying local and sense of community.

Amelia Ellicott has lived in the same street all her life but now she is getting old and cannot care for the garden she once loved. She detests the high rises that surround her house and the people within – who she thinks do not hold values similiar to her.

She wishes to show her baby chicks to others but has no one. Meanwhile in the high rise, people look down longingly at the vegetable patches and baby chicks.

But after a storm things change within this little community and within the heart of Amelia. She allows the people from the apartment to help her bring her garden back to it’s former glory – but with a lot more warmth.

Amelia Ellicott’s Garden is a heart-warming read for anyone and perhaps it will inspire you to say hello to your neighbour? Share some tomatoes with the person next door or maybe join a community garden?

I love Stephen Michael King’s illustrations in all of the book’s he has illustrated and this one is no exception.

So what can you do?

PHILOSOPHY

  • What is community? This is a great philosophical discussion to be had with children as we all perceive community to be different. Look into different types of community, the roles we play – and the importance of each role. Do we all need to play an equal role to be a member of a community?

LITERACY

  • Investigate characters: How do all the different characters feel throughout the story? Compare the different background stories they all have and how this contributes to how they feel towards their community. Could this story be written from another characters perspective? How might they be feeling towards Amelia?

SUSTAINABILITY

  • Check out your local community garden
  • Investigate crop swap organisations
  • Buy some chickens for christmas – they are the best pet – cuddly and give an egg a day (they do poo a bit but that is great for the garden!)

SOMETHING EXTRA….

  • Have a BBQ with your neighbours! We are heading to one this weekend and I can’t wait to have a longer than 10 minute chat with them all!