Copyright Agency: Connecting authros and illustrators with schoolsSunday Chutney | The Deep End

Developing character: Examining quality literature as models of writing

Combined book covers for Sunday Chutney and The Deep End

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.

A unit of work for Junior to Middle Primary

Sunday Chutney by Aaron Blabey

Penguin Books | ISBN 9780670071791

The Deep End by Ursula Dubosarsky, illustrated by Mitch Vane

Penguin Books | ISBN 9780143305279

Publisher's synopses:

Sunday Chutney. Sunday Chutney has the most extraordinary life — she has lived all over the world! Of course, moving around means she's always the new kid at school and never really has a place to call home. But Sunday Chutney doesn't care about that. Or does she?

The Deep End. Becky has reached the point in her swimming lessons when she has stopped being a Frog and has moved up to be a Platypus. She has to go into the deep end, and she's not at all sure that she's ready for it. She wishes she could be a Frog for just a little while longer.


In the video conference sessions on which this unit is based, Aaron Blabey and Ursula Dubosarsky discussed their approach to developing character and plot and use modelled, guided and independent reading; talking and listening to explore, clarify and demonstrate understandings; modelled, guided and independent writing; and understandings of visual literacy to deconstruct and construct images and accompanying texts.

Teaching and learning sequence (below)

Lesson 1: Preparation for reading | Covers and prediction

Lesson 2: Shared and independent reading | Exploring visual language and character

Lesson 3: Modelled reading  | Video conference Part 1 | Assessment as learning

Lesson 4: After reading  | Assessment of learning

Lesson 5: Brainstorming ideas | Descriptive language

Lesson 6: Video conference Part 2 | Characterisation task | Assessment of learning

Self-assessment criteria for students

Video note: This unit resulted from a collaborative project between PETAA and the Copyright Agency. The unit links to videos recorded live at Gymea Bay Public School using the NSW DEC video conference network. The videos are presented as recorded with minimal editing.

Students will:

Students will view and read a selection of books by Aaron Blabey and Ursula Dubosarsky, focussing particularly on Sunday Chutney and The Deep End, and

  • learn how to develop character and plot in their writing
  • learn how two authors approach the task of developing a character
  • create a narrative, melding the two books, about a School Swimming Carnival that includes the character Sunday Chutney.

Suggested unit duration: 4–6 weeks

Ideas, hints and comments

Explicit teaching may be required to support students to:

  • use appropriate and effective descriptive language to discuss and write about characters
  • incorporate emotions into their character descriptions
  • create interesting and accurate simple, compound and complex sentences

Task parameters

Students may work in small groups whilst examining texts and characters but, they will create an individual narrative. The narrative will include the character Sunday Chutney and will focus on a school swimming carnival. They will present their narrative as an illustrated story.


Formative assessment will be used throughout the unit to provide feedback and support for all students to ensure progression in learning. The final writing task will be self-assessed using explicit criteria. However, teachers may devise their own criteria.

Australian Curriculum: English Year Levels  Year 2   Year 3

Australian Curriculum: English content descriptions

Language: Expressing and developing ideas Year 2 Identify visual representations of characters’ actions, reactions, speech and thought processes in narratives, and consider how these images add to or contradict or multiply the meaning of accompanying words AC9E2LA08. Year 3 Identify the effect on audiences of techniques, for example shot size, vertical camera angle and layout in picture books, advertisements and film segments AC9E3LA09.

Literacy: Interacting with others Year 3 Listen to and contribute to conversations and discussions to share information and ideas and negotiate in collaborative situations AC9E3LY02. Interpreting, analysing and evaluating Year 2 Use comprehension strategies to build literal and inferred meaning and begin to analyse texts by drawing on growing knowledge of context, language and visual features and print and multimodal text structures AC9E2LY05. Year 2 Read less predictable texts with phrasing and fluency by combining contextual, semantic, grammatical and phonic knowledge using text processing strategies, for example monitoring meaning, predicting, rereading and self-correcting AC9E2LY04. Creating texts Year 2 Create short imaginative, informative and persuasive texts using growing knowledge of text structures and language features for familiar and some less familiar audiences, selecting print and multimodal elements appropriate to the audience and purpose AC9E2LY06. Year 2 Construct texts featuring print, visual and audio elements using software, including word processing programs. Year 3 Plan, draft and publish imaginative, informative and persuasive texts demonstrating increasing control over text structures and language features and selecting print and multimodal elements appropriate to the audience and purpose AC9E3LY06.

Literature: Literature and context Year 2 Discuss how depictions of characters in print, sound and images reflect the contexts in which they were created AC9E2LE01. Responding to literature Year 2 Compare opinions about characters, events and settings in and between texts AC9E2LE02. Year 3 Draw connections between personal experiences and the worlds of texts, and share responses with others AC9E3LE02. Examining literature Year 2 Discuss the characters and settings of different texts and explore how language is used to present these features in different ways AC9E2LE03. Year3 Discuss how language is used to describe the settings in texts, and explore how the settings shape the events and influence the mood of the narrative AC9E3LE03. Creating literature Year 2 Create events and characters using different media that develop key events and characters from literary texts AC9E2LE05.

Source for content descriptions above: Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA) 

Before reading — assessment for learning

Australian Curriculum: English sub-strand: Literacy – Interpreting, analysing and evaluating

Display covers and some illustrations from Sunday Chutney and The Deep End and ask students to predict whether the books are likely to be fiction or non-fiction.

Introduce visual literacy concepts (such as angles, framing, colour, salience, demand and offer, reading paths, composition, layout) to discuss a selection of images from both books.

Note: If students are not familiar with these concepts and terms,  provide explicit teaching and modeling — introducing several  concepts at a time.

Look at the illustrations in Sunday Chutney. Discuss the ways in which varying emotions are depicted. Draw students’ attention to background objects (symbols of different countries/cities) and the perspectives of the illustrations (scattered pictures can be seen to represent change, elaboration, etc).

Students will: Use illustrations to predict type of book and justify their responses. Discuss images using the vocabulary of visual literacy and the impact of various choices made by illustrators.

Students will use illustrations and information from discussions to answer questions, such as:

  • Who is Sunday Chutney?
  • Why is she the main character?
  • What do you think she is feeling? Why?
  • What do you think is happening?

Questions will be used to create a character profile of Sunday Chutney from their predictions and the illustrations only.

Covers and prediction

Australian Curriculum: English sub-strand: Literacy – Creating texts

Give students illustrations from Sunday Chutney without words. Ask students to create texts for each illustration. Use students’ responses to determine the level of literacy support required for the unit.

Discuss with students the illustrations of the places that Sunday lived. Ask students to identify some of the landmarks then create a list and brief description of the different places where Sunday lived, focusing on engaging noun groups and adverbials.

Using the illustrations only from The Deep End, discuss who might be the main character, does he/she look happy, what might he/she be doing?

Students will: Work in small groups to create texts to describe the illustrations; create a PowerPoint or Notebook file about one of the places where Sunday lived; create a postcard for a friend or relative describing their home town or suburb; select one illustration and write about an event it might be depicting.

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