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Author & Illustrator: Shirley Marr
Publisher: Penguin Random House Australia
Unit writer: Jennifer Asha
Synopsis: Meixing Lim and her family have arrived at the New House in the New Land. Everything is vast and unknown to Meixing – including the house she names Big Scary. She is embarrassed by her second-hand shoes, has trouble understanding the language at school, and is finding it hard to make friends. Meixing’s only solace is a glasshouse in the garden, which inexplicably holds the sun and the moon and the secrets of her memory and imagination. When her fragile universe is rocked by tragedy, it will take all of Meixing’s bravery to find her place of belonging in this new world.
Themes: Migrant experience, fitting in, grief, friendship, culture, belonging.
Year levels: Australian Curriculum: English, Year 5 & 6; HASS (History), Year 5 & 6; Arts (Drama), Year 5 & 6.
Why use this book? This book deals with themes that are relevant to many young Australian readers. The main character uses imagination and tenacity to cope with very difficult situations. This example of magical realism is told through second person in present tense that provides a model of this genre and unusual story telling mode.
The following pages have been selected for closer analysis throughout the teaching unit:
● House’ pp. 1-10 (Introduction to Big Scary)
● ‘Oranges’ pp. 66-72 (First encounter the magic of the glasshouse)
● ‘Olives’ and ‘Wolfberries’ pp. 121-143 (The glasshouse working to help Josh and grow the relationship between him and Meixing)
● Boots’ pp. 251-261 (Heightened tension and turning point for Mama)