We’re going on a ... Quest!

Dr Lorraine (Lorri) Beveridge

We spend a phenomenal amount of our lives following stories: telling them, listening to them, reading them, watching them being acted out on the television screen on the television or in films or on stage. They are far and away one of the most important features of our everyday existence.
Christopher Booker in The Seven Basic Plots: Why we tell stories, page 2

The content description links on this page have been updated in line with Version 9.0 of the Australian Curriculum. Use this guide to compare codes across versions.

Introduction

Teachers are uniquely placed to encourage students’ love of telling, reading, sharing, writing and viewing stories as they progress through school, leveraging understanding of English concepts learned in earlier years. Stories are multifaceted and complex. They entertain, in doing so producing some form of affective response in the reader, creating both pleasure and pain (Stein, 1982).

They also achieve so much more. Stories pass on information, project opinions, persuade, inform, educate, and fire the imagination. As well, stories disseminate a society’s culture and mores. ‘Stories are used to instruct children in life’s lessons’ (Stein, 1982, page 490). They are ‘strange sequences of mental images we call a story’ (Booker, 2004, page 2).

Much of the Australian Curriculum: English can be taught in engaging ways through the vehicle of quality literary texts that focus on narrative. I have shared what constitutes quality texts in prior PETAA publications (see Murray and Beveridge, 2019), based on the views of Ewing, Callow and Rushton (2017), who identify that quality literary texts (page 103):

  • Engage both students and adults alike and relate, but are not limited to, students’ interests and experiences.
  • Are rich in use of language and imagery (rather than overly contrived with limited vocabulary or ancillary images).
  • Merit multiple readings and trigger lots of deep discussion including ‘Why’ and ‘I wonder’ questions.
  • Are multi-layered (there are a range of interpretations possible rather than only one dimension).
  • Evoke a range of different communities, worlds, cultures, and ways of being.
  • Are aesthetically designed.

The escapist fantasy genre with its classic quest narrative, when represented in quality texts, can be a powerful tool in a teacher’s arsenal when expanding student knowledge and encouraging a passion for storytelling. In this paper, I investigate a particular type of narrative with a twist or two ... Imagine being shipwrecked in a tiny wooden boat, bobbing wildly in stormy, shark infested seas while dragons shoot flames from the heavens. Imagine a group of companions, terror clutching their hearts as they are herded by spine-chilling monsters into a dark and densely vegetated forest, fearing they have reached their final destination. I reveal, dear readers … the jaw-dropping, spine-chilling journey that is a QUEST!

The word quest comes from the Latin word quaere which means to seek. Quests tell the story of a hero’s journey (Campbell, 1958, 2010; Campbell & Moyers, 1988; Booker, 2004). This classic formula is evidenced in most world cultures throughout human history. Quests are related to journeys, yet entail much more: the hero and their companions usually reach their destination, but not before they encounter a series of onerous ordeals (often involving magical, mythical creatures) that impede their progress toward their stated goal.

Quests can be traced back to Greek myths and legends (Clark, 2020; Booker, 2004). Although quests and myths share similarities, they are not quite the same. Quests involve a hero’s journey to find something valuable, whereas myths are traditional stories that explain phenomena, often involving supernatural beings (typical characters in quests). In summary, not all myths are quests (Booker, 2004; Campbell & Moyers, 1988), even though they are both narratives.

Quests were traditionally passed on orally, and later written down (Campbell, 2010). This is reflected in the etymology of the word itself: ‘myth’ originated from the Ancient Greek, muthos meaning discourse, or speech from the mouth, eventually evolving to become mythos (modern Latin), and finally, to the word ‘myth’ as we know it today (Google Dictionary, 2020). While the mythical origins of quest narratives contain language which is sometimes challenging for primary students to understand (Clark, 2020; Booker, 2004), simplified versions of the classic Greek mythology stories are ubiquitous and may elicit exciting class discussions as students relate the relevance of these tales to their own lives. Through deep discussion about a range of ancient and contemporary quests with students, we can identify the structures of quests that students can draw on to enrich and embellish their own narrative writing. Through sharing quests with students, we are intertwining the three strands of the Australian Curriculum: English (AC:E). Students can learn about the archetypal narrative structure of quests and its language features and conventions, while also learning important messages about personal discovery, values and growth, and overcoming challenges.

A quest usually contains the following features:

  • An urgent call to action
  • A hero and the hero’s companions
  • A staged journey
  • Helpers that support the hero/heroes along the way
  • Arrival and frustration
  • Final ordeals and challenges
  • Achievement of the goal.
(Adapted from Clark, 2019; Booker, 2004; Campbell, 1958)

It brings to mind a long linear narrative of highs and lows; hopes raised and then dashed and a long and winding series of unfortunate events
Rachel Clark Story Structure: Quests and Journeys

The hero or heroine demonstrates bravery, resourcefulness and empathy and (usually) dedicates their life to something bigger than themselves; an important, challenging, and dangerous journey for a higher purpose that will make the world a better place for all. Along the way, they are tested, meeting allies and enemies and facing ordeals.

Quests can be found in quality literature in all year groups as students progress through school. Text narratives in the form of quests can now be found in a diverse range of media, including multimodal texts, podcasts and WebQuests (defined by Bernie Dodge, the originator of the WebQuest concept, as ‘an inquiry-oriented activity in which most or all of the information used by learners is drawn from the Web’, as cited in Taylor (2002), page 320). For the purposes of this PETAA paper I will investigate four examples of quest narratives in quality children’s literature.

The following quality texts are popular and engaging and will familiarise students with the key features of this narrative type. Teaching activities are provided for each text, in addition to the Australian Curriculum: English links. The outlines below also provide useful scaffolds for students to use in their own writing, building their literacy and language skills by drawing on familiar, age-appropriate, quality literature as they progress through school from Foundation to Year Six.

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Foundation Year
We’re Going on a Bear Hunt

The original 1979 cover for We're Going on a Bear Hunt, showing father with three childrenThe seminal text We’re Going on a Bear Hunt (Rosen and Oxenbury, 1979) is often introduced to Foundation year students as a wonderful example of a book that can assume many forms. It is a story, a song, a multimodal text and an action rhyme. The book tells its story through predictive, repetitive cumulative storylines and poetic rhyming phrases, linking to all strands of the Australian Curriculum: English (AC9EFLA03).

It is often put to music and can be used in this form as either a lesson break or an action song to engage and focus students in the early years classroom. Many versions of the song are available online for class use, or you can view an endearing poetic version recited by Michael Rosen himself.

In exploring We’re Going on a Bear Hunt in the classroom, the following primary features of the quest genre are revealed and explored through deep discussion with students. The text invites innovation during modelled, guided, and independent speaking and listening (singing), reading, and writing activities.

Feature of the quest — Call to action

Examples from the text: Hunting for a bear.

Content: Exploring the text — orientation ACELT1584

Discussion question: Why did the family want to hunt for a bear?

Feature of the quest — Hero/companions

Example from the text: Dad and his four children.

Discussion questions: Who was the hero? Why? Identify the language features in the text.

Feature of the quest — The journey

Examples from the text:

  • Long wavy grass
  • Deep cold river
  • Thick oozy mud
  • Big, dark forest
  • Swirling, whirling snowstorm
  • Narrow, gloomy cave

Content: Noun groups, verb groups, adverbials. AC9EFLA06

Discussion questions: How and why has the writer has used these language features? What is onomatopoeia? AC9EFLA09 AC9EFLE01 ACELT1600

Feature of the quest — Helper(s)

Example from the text: An owl guiding the family through the snow

Content: Onomatopoeia, Exclamation marks, Text formatting

Discussion questions:

  • When and why does the author use onomatopoeia? ACELT1600
  • What do the exclamation marks tell us?
  • Why has the author used different text formats?
  • Can you find examples of these in other texts? AC9EFLE02

Feature of the quest — Arrival/ frustration

Example from the text: The bear chased the children all the way home.

Content: Noun groups

Focus on:

  • One shiny wet nose
  • Two big googly eyes
  • It’s a BEAR!!!! (text formatting for emphasis)
  • Reading and reciting

Feature of the quest — Final ordeal

Examples from the text: Back through the ... (reverse cumulative text)

Content: Drama, Oral reading

Teaching activities:

  • Reread collaboratively to build fluency and accuracy in oral reading. AC9EFLY04  AC9EFLY05
  • Share the reverse series of events from the text. AC9EFLE03
  • Have your students enact a dramatisation of the text. AC9EFLE05

Feature of the quest — Goal(s) achieved

Examples in the text: Home unharmed. All safely in bed, under the covers.

Content:

  • Making inferences
  • Sequencing
  • Visualising
  • Comprehension
  • Resolution

Teaching activities:

  • Talk about characters’ feelings. AC9EFLE02
  • Discuss and sequence events in the story. ACELT1589
  • Visualise elements in the text.
  • Retelling in their own words. AC9EFLY04 AC9EFLY05

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Years 1 and 2
Beware of the Deep Dark Forest

Protagonist Rosie amidst creepers and undergrowth in a forest on the cover of Beware of the Deep Dark ForestBeware the Deep Dark Forest (Whiting & White, 2018) is a robust and engaging text, with key features revealed as the protagonist, Rosie, progresses through a forest in search of her lost dog Tinky. The intended audience is Year 1–2 students, and the colourful text, full of mystery and tinged with the perfect amount of fear, invites age-appropriate drama and role play activities. The text is also useful for introducing to students the English textual concepts of narrative, character, code and convention (NSW DoE, 2018).

The vocabulary, illustrations and figurative language in the book evoke mysterious places and magical creatures, a ubiquitous feature of the quest genre. For example, ‘a menacing, monstrous, muddy troll’, and ‘a dizzily dangerously, dreadfully deep ravine’ are some of the alliterative extended noun groups which conjure exciting pictures in young readers’ minds. This use of language creates an opportunity for teachers to introduce its conventions to students and invite them to create their own quests. This could be achieved through drawing, oral storytelling, writing, psychodrama (an action method involving spontaneous dramatisation or role-playing) or computer programming such as  that facilitated by Tynker, which enables students to write their own stories and animate them using computer coding. This can be a clever way of making authentic links between the English, Science and Technology Curriculums. A multimodal text version of the story may also be useful for fluency building and repeated reading activities in the English classroom.

Feature of the quest — Call to action

Examples from the text: Rosie must find her dog Tricky, who ran into the forest

Content: Text exploration: Orientation, Plot, Character, Setting AC9E1LE03 AC9E2LE03

Discussion questions:

  • Discuss features of plot, character and setting.
  • Why did Tinky run into the forest?
  • How could Rosie have prevented him from doing so?

Feature of the quest — Hero/companions

Examples from the text: Rosie

Content: Character maps, Reader’s perspective, Author view

Discussion questions:

  • What do Rosie, Dad, Grandma and Tinky look like?
  • How is the hero, Rosie, judged by the other characters, reader and author?
  • What do we know about the characters? AC9E1LE03

Feature of the quest — The journey

Examples from the text:

  • Into the deep, dark forest
  • Through some thorny vines
  • Into a dreadfully deep ravine
  • On the far side of a creek
  • On the slippery creek pebbles
  • Into the muddy water
  • Past the bristly, brute of a wolf

Content:

  • Use of language to build different types of circumstances —time, place, manner AC9E2LA01  AC9E2LA03
  • Use of conjunctions and connectives AC9E2LA06
  • Cohesive devices   AC9E2LA04

Teaching activities — in the text:

  • Identify conjunctions (join clauses/phrases in a sentence) and connectives (connect sentences and paragraphs) in text. AC9E2LA06
  • Identify cohesive devices. AC9E2LA04

Discussion questions: How do we know when, where and how things happen? What words tell us this?

Feature of the quest — Helper/s

Examples from the text: Dad, Grandma

Content: Creating a character

Discussion questions:

  • How do the author and illustrator situate us to feel about these characters? How do we know? AC9E2LE03
  • How does the author use language devices to build the characters? AC9E2LA07  AC9E1LE01

Feature of the quest — Arrival/ frustration

Examples from the text:

  • Found her dog. Needs to get home and face her antagonists again
  • Altercation with the troll
  • Rosie finds her inner strength

Content: Participants and circumstances, Sequencing, Vocabulary building AC9E1LY05

Teaching activities:

  • Identify participants and circumstances in the text, for example, Rosie’s fury (participant) startled (circumstance) the troll (participant). AC9E2LE01
  • Have students draw the main events in the story then construct a story map for display in classroom. AC9E1LY05
  • Caption a story map with key vocabulary from the text. AC9E2LA09

Feature of the quest — Final ordeal

Examples from the text:

  • Rosie snatched Tinky and ran away …
  • Back through the ... (reverse cumulative text)
  • Across the dizzily deep ravine
  • Past the bristly brute of a wolf
  • Back through the deep and dark and muddy forest
  • At last, she stumbled into her village

Figurative language examples from the text:

  • This place is creepy
  • With fangs like daggers
  • As tall as forest trees
  • As wide as the river boulders
  • It was nothing, really

Content: Role play, Onomatopoeia, Readers’ Theatre, Intertextuality, Figurative language

Teaching activities:

  • Discuss/role play Rosie meeting the troll. AC9E1LE05
  • Explore onomatopoeia (ker-plunk, splash, thunk). ACELT1600
  • Experiment with Readers’ Theatre — selected characters read parts in speech marks; the whole class reads the rest of the text on the interactive whiteboard. AC9E2LE02
  • Point out intertextuality in the text, for example, similar structure to We're Going on a Bear Hunt. AC9E2LY01
  • Identify figurative language throughout the text (words that go beyond their ordinary meaning). AC9E2LA03

Feature of the quest — Goal(s) achieved

Examples in the text:

Retrieved Tinky. Rosie is back with her family. Tinky unharmed. Innovation on text scaffold, for example:

  • ‘You …’ cried Rosie’s grandma.
  • ‘That …’ said Rosie’s dad.
  • ‘It …’ said Rosie.

Content: Modelled, guided and independent writing. Thinking beyond the text

Teaching activities:

  • Class or groups brainstorm an alternative ending to the text. AC9E1LY02
  • Students write an innovation on the text. AC9E2LY06 AC9E2LE05
  • Differentiate through modelled, guided and independent writing.

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Years 3 and 4
To the Bridge

To the Bridge: The Journey of Lennie and Ginger Mick (Fenton & McLean, 2020), is an historical narrative based on the true story of nine-year old Lennie Gwyther, who in 1932 rode his horse, Ginger Mick, 2,500 km from Leongatha in rural Victoria to witness the opening of the Sydney Harbour Bridge.

It was a challenging feat for one so young and along the way, Lennie demonstrated indomitable human spirit and perseverance to achieve his goal. Lennie’s history-making journey models bravery to readers and introduces them to historical narratives.

Feature of the quest — Call to action

Examples from the text: To attend the opening of the Sydney Harbour Bridge

Content: Text exploration — Audience, Purpose, Setting

Teaching activities:

  • Identify the setting — locating Leongatha and distance to Sydney.
  • Compare texts, news reports, multimodal texts on the topic. Make connections between the ways different authors and reporters represent similar ideas. ACELY1665 AC9E4LA03 AC9E4LY03

Discussion questions:

  • Where is the story set? (use illustrations, cover)
  • Why are Lennie and Ginger Mick going on a journey? (use back cover)
  • What did you find enjoyable about the story? Why?

Feature of the quest — Hero/companions

Examples from the text: Lennie (hero), Ginger Mick (his horse)

Content: Learning about character

  • May be judged by reader, other characters or author. AC9E4LE02
  • Can evoke an emotional response in the reader.

Teaching activity: Examine the author’s description of characters and how they develop the character through dialogue in the text. AC9E3LE01

Discussion question: How did you feel when ...?

Feature of the quest — The journey

Examples from the text:

  • Working the family farm
  • Dad’s accident
  • Planning the journey
  • Departing Leongatha
  • Bushfires
  • Rugged Snowy Mountains
  • Inclement weather

Content: Visual grammar, Narrative structure, Language features

Teaching activities:

  • Highlight visual grammar from the text, including story paths, framing, salience (for example, pages 4–6) and how these effect the viewer’s response. AC9E4LA10
  • Identify a simple narrative structure (there is more than one complication in this text).
  • Explore language features of narrative stories interpreted through action, character and setting. AC9E4LE01

Feature of the quest — Helper(s)

Examples from the text: Dad and family, Townsfolk, Swaggles, School children. Prime Minister, Families along the way

Content: Language structure and meaning

Teaching activities:

  • Identify cohesion in the text, for example, pronouns that link previously mentioned nouns, determiners (this, that, these, the), and connectives that link sentences, for example, ‘As the days passed, they met other travellers, and swaggies searching for work. AC9E4LA04
  • Unpack the meaning and position of adverbials, for example, ‘as the days passed’ and have students use them in their writing. Can it be moved in the sentence? Why/ why not? AC9E4LA06 AC9E4LA08

Feature of the quest — Arrival/ frustration

Example from the text: Locating the Bridge in Sydney

Content:

  • Symbols, metaphor and visual representation
  • Grammar including noun groups and adjectivals

Teaching activities:

  • Talk about symbols in the text, for example, Sydney Harbour Bridge, rainbow. What do they represent? Build vocabulary to discuss visual elements.
  • Build noun groups. AC9E4LA06
  • Discuss the use of adjectivals that make text exciting, in relation to what Lennie saw in the city. For example, ‘… incredible arching structure with soaring sandstone pylons that guarded the bridge like sentries’. AC9E4LE03

Feature of the quest — Final ordeal

Example from the text: The ride back home

Content: Text types, Purpose, Language choice

Teaching activity: Examine a variety of text types with similar purpose and discuss similarities and differences in language choice and structure, for example a book compared with a news report. ACELY1665 AC9E4LA03

Feature of the quest — Goal(s) achieved

Example in the text: Lennie achieved his dream to see the opening of the Sydney Harbour Bridge

Content: Text creation, Planning and sequencing

Teaching activities:

  • Create literary texts that explore students’ own dreams. AC9E4LE05
  • Collaboratively plan, compose and sequence a literary text in the form of a quest. AC9E4LE05

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Years 5 and 6
The Glimme

A phantasmagorical  dragon on Glimme book coverThe Glimme (Rodda & McBride, 2018) is a fantasy quest where readers ‘slip between worlds, and plunge into peril’. The audience for this particular text is students in the final years of primary school who enjoy reading imaginative texts about shape-shifting, time travel and mythical creatures.

Teachers could use this text to engage students in subject English as this quality fantasy text builds excitement and intrigue in readers as they accompany the protagonist on his arduous journey in the achievement of his ultimate goal. Emily Rodda is a veteran fantasy writer for children, well known for the Deltora Quest series, among others, and may be familiar to your students. The story of The Glimme has been carefully crafted by Rodda from a series of images provided to her by frequent collaborator Marc McBride, who spent ten years drawing and digitising the spellbinding images.

The hero of the story, Finn, is sold to a housekeeper by his uncaring grandfather. While copying a series of paintings in the conservatory of the mansion, Finn falls through them into a fantasy world, Glimme, where the quest takes place. It involves dangerous dragons, gruesome giants and malevolent monsters. Helpers, a common feature of the quest narrative, are found in abundance in The Glimme. They have a common higher purpose that binds them: the survival of The Glimme and themselves/each other.

There is also a PETAA CBCA unit of work on The Glimme.

Feature of the quest — Call to action

Examples from the text:

  • To solve the puzzle of the paintings.
  • To find the Dragon Queen and return her to the Glimme, to prevent a war between the tribes.
  • For Finn to return home safely.

Content:

  • Language features
  • Point of view
  • Text structure
  • Quest structure
  • Sentence structure
  • Writing/text creation

Teaching activities:

  • Revise language features of narrative and introduce the structure of quests. AC9E5LA03
  • Explore point of view using various characters in the text. AC9E5LE03
  • Use earlier, familiar texts to explicitly model the structure of quests, for example, We’re going on a Bear Hunt.
  • Identify text structure, including chapters, headings, graphics that support text.  AC9E5LY03
  • Revise simple, compound, complex sentences in text. AC9E5LA05
  • Get students to innovate on the text to write their own sentences or paragraphs. AC9E6LA03

Feature of the quest — Hero/companions

Examples from the text: Finn/Penn (protagonist, Lorri/Lark (companion)

Content: Genre, Sentence structure

Teaching activities:

  • Discuss how visuals, dialogue and characters convey elements about culture in text (fantasy genre). AC9E5LE01
  • Identify the theme position of paragraphs and sentences (important for writers and readers alike) for example, ‘Despite his terror, Finn’s heart thrilled at the sight of Chieftain Gor roaring at the head of his army’. (Adverbial in theme position telling why). AC9E5LA04
  • Identify possessives in text (apostrophes) and model by using them in writing. AC9E5LA09

Discussion question: How is direct speech used to give insights into characters? For example, Mistress Fay, looking at Finn’s drawings, ‘You see beyond the veil’ (page 7).

Feature of the quest — The journey

Examples from the text:

  • Village
  • Orin’s Tor
  • Grandparents’ farm
  • Edge House
  • Entrance to the Glimme
  • The Castle Nye
  • Cruel Sea
  • Isle of Hind
  • Eastern Zone
  • Home

Content:

  • Poetry.
  • Figurative language and figurative devices in text.
  • The author is speaking figuratively and the sentences need to be unpacked through class discussion, to make meaning.

Teaching activities:

  • Identify figurative language describing each of the story settings as you progress through the text, for example, ‘the great pale arch in the sky where dragons flew ...’ (page 4), ‘more money than sense ...’ (page 8), ‘... see beyond the veil.’ (page 7). AC9E6LA06
  • Explore how poetry is used to ‘signpost’ the story line as the hero moves between settings, for example, ‘Like fangs of stone rise Sisters Three, to cheat the stranger’s view.’ (page 32). AC9E6LE04
  • Make a story map of the quest and annotate it (model page 48). AC9E5LY04

Discussion question: What do you think the author means by this sentence? ‘He gave himself up to the Glimme’ (page 50).

Feature of the quest — Helper(s)

Examples from the text: Wolf, Teller, Spark, Giants. Antagonists — Bravo, Rune, Centaur, Housekeeper/ Dragon Queen, Quinlins.

Content:

  • Text study — the Great Council meeting and introduction of mythical creatures (page 89).
  • Spelling of vocabulary, Chapter 5, for example, chieftains, centaur, territory, ancestors, gestured.
  • Building interesting noun groups with visual support (pages 90–91) for example, ‘Then, there was the _____, ____ centaur’.

Teaching activities:

  • Discuss what happens at the council meeting and the introduction of mythical creatures.
  • Identify the complication that changes the direction of the quest to find the Dragon Queen and save the world.
  • Spelling — new vocabulary drawing on morphology and etymology. AC9E5LY09 AC9E6LY09
  • Building noun groups, writing descriptions of characters on the Great Council. AC9E5LA06

Feature of the quest — Arrival/ frustration

Examples from the text: At every turn in the plot, there is a frustration for Finn and his companions.

Content: Study the complications and their resolutions.

  • Finn covered in brown shell
  • Dragons attack the Fortress of Leon
  • The tidal wave is upon them
  • Complex sentences — dependent clauses, for example, ‘Ahead and behind, shouts and the screaming of horses told him that the whole party had been attacked’. (Reference, Campbell & Ryles, 2018, page 47)

Teaching activities:

  • Unpack the complications and their resolutions as students arrive at each new setting in the text.
  • Consider the attack of the Bogwights on page 129 and how the team were saved by the Leons in Chapter 9.
  • Look at complex sentences, by identifying the main and subordinate/ dependent clauses in the text, for example, ‘When he woke, he was alone, and covered in a woven blanket’. AC9E5LA05
  • Demonstrate moving dependent clauses around in the sentence to change emphasis or meaning. AC9E5LA05

Feature of the quest — Final ordeal

Examples in the text:

  • The dragons crash through the veil to rescue their Queen.
  • The dragons find a way back through the veil to the Glimme.
  • Finn must prevent the dragons from destroying the village and its people.

Content: The use of language to express greater precision of meaning, Visual literacy

Teaching activities:

  • Read, explain and discuss sequences of images in the text, for example, Chapter 20 pages 360–376. AC9E5LY04
  • Unpack the use of language to express greater precision of meaning, such as verb groups, for example, swept joyously, shrank to a pinpoint, plucked, emerged, stifled (page 374, page 75). AC9E5LA08  AC9E6LA06

Feature of the quest — Goal(s) achieved

Examples in the text:

  • The villagers are saved.
  • The Dragon Queen returns home with her subjects to the Glimme.
  • Finn and Lorri are home safe.
  • Finn finds his father.
  • The story concludes with a great renewal of life both in the village, and in the Glimme.
  • A link between the two worlds has been uncovered.

Content: Text creation, Text and author comparison.

Teaching activities:

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Conclusion

Quests outline a path of growth for their protagonists. In We’re Going on a Bear Hunt, Dad succeeds in leading the little family safely home, despite the challenging ordeals faced along the way. This text could be discussed in classrooms in relation to the importance of sticking together in times of adversity. Rosie, the hero of Beware the Deep Dark Forest, has a different goal — she puts herself in necessary danger to save her beloved dog, Tinky. In contrast, in a narrative version of an actual event, Lenny Gwyther’s journey models the focus and determination students can develop to achieve their goals.

While these three books contain features of quests, The Glimme is the only text that more closely aligns with a traditional quest genre. Finn, the hero, finds himself swept into an alternate reality filled with mythical creatures, many of which are reminiscent of the classical Greek myths and legends. Throughout the book, we see his character development as he grows from a scared child, overwhelmed by the situation into which he has been unwillingly thrust, to a strong, compassionate, thoughtful and brave protagonist. Finn and his companions rescue the Glimme from impending war and destruction. The worldly theme of this text relates to perseverance in the face of adversity, an important life lesson. Finn successfully overcomes momentous challenges, and like Rosie and Lennie, models incredible bravery. This is just one of the traits evidenced in quest texts that can guide and inspire readers in our daily lives.

Great minds throughout human history have espoused the values we live by that enrich humankind and move us forward. These values are reflected in the oral and written literature that societies continue to enjoy and learn from, providing ‘occidental mythological information’ (Campbell & Moyers, 1988), remnants of messages from the first evidence of human storytelling that initiate us into what it is to be ‘human’, teaching us about rituals and how best to relate to the world. Through focusing on story, contemporary texts we love and share in classrooms can reflect these age-old values that help children to grow and prosper and live their best lives as they progress through school.

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About the author

Dr Lorraine (Lorri) Beveridge currently works as a curriculum advisor in the NSW Department of Education. She was a co-author of PETAA Paper 215, Let’s write a unit, and co-editor of the award- winning PETAA text, The Alphabetic Principle and Beyond: Surveying the landscape (2019). Lorri served on the PETAA Board of Directors from 2016–2018. She highly values her long association with PETAA, proudly learning with and from teachers and educators across Australia, improving student outcomes in subject English — a shared goal of the highest gravitas.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this paper are those of the author and not necessarily those of her employer.

References