Fiction, Film and other Texts a support document for the English Years 7–10 Syllabus

The Navigator: A Mediaeval Odyssey (PG)

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The Navigator: A Mediaeval Odyssey (PG)

Directed by Vincent Ward

Trylon Video

A fourteenth-century rural village in England is threatened by the plague. A nine-year-old boy called Griffin has a dream that may help to save the village from infection. His dream is of a journey in which he sees a city with a thousand fires, a great cathedral, and a figure with a gloved hand roped to the steeple and about to fall. Five of the village men decide to go on this journey. Through a fantasy experience in which the film transforms from black-and-white to colour, this medieval group enters the twentieth century near a motorway. The film makes haunting connections between the values and beliefs of ancient and modern people, and ends up challenging modern certainties. The film was highly commended at the 1988 Cannes Film Festival.
Picnic at Hanging Rock (PG)
Directed by Peter Weir

Vestron Video
An intriguing and groundbreaking Australian film, Peter Weir’s Picnic at Hanging Rock heralded the renaissance of Australian cinema. It is a muted introduction to the Australian Gothic genre in cinema, as well as to an important tradition in landscape cinematography. The disturbing story, based on Joan Lindsay’s novel of the same name, follows the familiar ‘lost in the bush’ narrative. With no plot resolution, the film is evocative and exists as an emotional experience. The power of the film comes from its hypnotic and mesmerising rhythm established through such things as a haunting musical refrain and intercuts of close-up shots of the rock. The rock dominates the landscape and the narrative. The camera examines the rock in intimate detail from many and varied angles, capturing in close-up its wildlife and flora in a way that suggests it has a life of its own. Other shots suggest faces in the rock, adding to the film’s mystery and our sense of ‘being watched’. The ancient quality of the land is visually contrasted with the young, innocent girls who are dressed in white, lace and frills, and speak of Botticelli and angels. The film would provide a good comparison study with the novel, The Blue Faraway (Burke, 1996).
Pleasantville (M)

Directed by Gary Ross

New Line Cinema
David and his sister Jennifer fight over the remote control and inexplicably end up being sucked into the television. They find themselves trapped in Pleasantville, a ‘Father Knows Best’ style 1950s black-and-white television show, complete with loving parents, old-fashioned values, and an overwhelming amount of innocence and predictability. As they interact with their television family and the town’s inhabitants, they start to change attitudes and behaviour and bring ‘colour’ and life to the world of Pleasantville and its inhabitants. On screen the changes are dramatically signalled by the gradual introduction of colour and coloured images. Initially we see the symbolic red rose; then, as people experience real emotions for the first time, they begin to show colour, as does the world around them. While they have a definite impact on this town, David and Jennifer are left, however, to compare and question the values of their own times and the film turns from parody and the comic, to being somewhat didactic, ending on social commentary. This film could be studied effectively with the novel The Giver (Lowry, 1993) and the picture book Luke’s Way of Looking (Wheatley & Ottley, 1999).
Sense and Sensibility (G)

Directed by Ang Lee

Columbia Pictures
Ang Lee’s capable direction brings to life an age of extreme politeness and ritualised conversation in considerable contrast to present social conventions. The Dashwood sisters’ styles, Elinor’s sense and Marianne’s sensibility, are finely distinguished in this adaptation of Jane Austen’s novel. The film is a salute to the period itself through its representation and description of Austen’s English society, its rules and requisite behaviours. The close, restricted social world the characters inhabit is visually contrasted by the shots of the open country landscape and Ang Lee’s use of space and subtle images of doorways. Emma Thompson’s screenplay, which won an Oscar for Best Writing, highlights the political nature of the courtships while grounding them in deep feeling. The humorous witticisms of Austen are cleverly drawn out as Thompson’s script and Ang Lee’s direction achieve a balance of irony and warmth.
Shine (PG)

Directed by Scott Hicks

The life of Australian pianist David Helfgott provides the basis for this exploration of troubled genius. David grows up amid passionate music and parental abuse, he travels overseas to study but suffers a breakdown. After being institutionalised for many years he is released and finally performs again. Noah Taylor and Geoffrey Rush provide striking portrayals of Helfgott before and after his breakdown. The story is told in flashbacks and the film offers insight into the creative process. The film’s appeal is enhanced by Hicks’ innovative direction and camera work, such as the close-up, side shot when Helfgott suffers his dramatic breakdown while performing.
Stand and Deliver (PG)

Directed by Ramón Menéndez  

Warner Home Video
Jaime Escalante is an unconventional mathematics teacher in a school in a Hispanic neighbourhood. To build up the self-esteem of his students he starts to teach them calculus and many of his students gain the highest grade results in the USA for algebra and calculus. The film offers a challenging viewing for all students as a perspective on education and as a tight realist docu-drama.
Raiders of the Lost Ark (M)

Directed by Steven Spielberg

Paramount Pictures
This is the first film in a trilogy that explores the adventures of archaeologist, Professor Indiana Jones. In this film, Indiana is in a race against Hitler’s agents to find the lost Ark of the Covenant and prevent the Nazis from using it as a weapon in their quest to become the supreme race and global power. The film is action-packed and fast-paced, employing a diverse range of film techniques to show Indiana’s frantic journey to different countries in his quest to find the Ark and his encounters with his enemies. The film is renowned for its cinematography and special effects and won Oscars for Best Art Direction and Best Visual Effects as well as numerous other awards.
What’s Eating Gilbert Grape? (PG)

Directed by Lasse Hallstrom

Paramount Pictures
Gilbert Grape lives in the small town of Endora, Iowa, where nothing much happens and Gilbert looks after his overweight mother and mentally handicapped brother, Arnie. While Arnie doesn’t think his family is going anywhere Gilbert seems to feel the need to move away from the pattern of life in Endora. Sensitive performances engender a warmth and compassion in this film about people who don’t fit in but don’t worry unduly about their differences. The ‘road’ metaphor is clearly established in the opening shots but these are juxtaposed with a series of still frames of Endora that depict its lack of life and vitality. The visual images are reinforced by Gilbert’s voice-over as he speaks of his hometown and introduces the individual members of his family, building to the climactic shot of his obese mother. Visual symbols, such as the map on the wall of the caravan and the tower Arnie always climbs, are used throughout the film to depict Gilbert’s frustration with his life and his yearning to leave. The final shots, once again of the road, complete the cyclic structure of the film but provide a sense of hopefulness as Gilbert and Arnie finally escape Endora. (See also My Life as a Dog.)
Yolngu Boy (M)

Directed by Stephen Johnson

Australian Children’s Television Foundation
Set on the Gove Peninsula in the Northern Territory, Yolngu Boy depicts the struggle experienced by three teenage Aboriginal boys. The film explores the pressures of living under two laws in one country and of the boys’ attempts to deal with the dual pressure of following a cultural background while being part of a materialistic society. In their trek through the bush the three boys come to different conclusions about how to live their lives. As they continue their trek across country they become more at one with the land and their traditional way of life. This transformation is visually mapped by their changing appearance and activities and the dream-like sequences. Honest and sometimes confronting Yolngu Boy provides remarkable insight into contemporary Australian life.
10 Things I Hate About You (PG)

Directed by Gil Junger

Buena Vista Pictures
This film works on two levels: as a teenage romantic comedy and as an appropriation of Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew. Bianca Stratford wishes to have a boyfriend but her father’s house rule is that she can’t date until her elder sister, Kat, does. Kat, of course, is an extremely independent female, who is not at all interested in boys or romance. Patrick Verona, from Australia and a newcomer to Padua High School, is not part of the normal social scene. He has the reputation of being a rebel and dangerous, with a mysterious past. He is paid to woo Kat and take her out, leaving the way for Cameron, who is in love with Bianca, to try and win her. From the characters’ names alone, it is clear that the film includes touches of parody and light-hearted jokes about Shakespeare and his work.


The often-adult world encompassed by nonfiction can be made more accessible for the secondary school student. Very often students can use nonfiction writing as a door to a world of larger experiences and as another way of understanding both themselves and others. Through such texts they can explore the experiences of disparate people through their letters and memoirs, travel to different lands, examine ideas on medicine, science and technology and a host of subjects, and can laugh and learn with others.
The diversity and range of this genre have much to offer school students.
Classics such as:

Albert Facey A Fortunate Life

John Hersey Hiroshima

Alan Marshall I Can Jump Puddles

Gavin Maxwell Ring of Bright Water

Gerald Durrell My Family and Other Animals

Thor Heyerdahl The Kon-Tiki Expedition

Esther Hautzig The Endless Steppe

Anne Frank The Diary of a Young Girl
have proved to be popular books in our schools. Nonfiction is not restricted to literature and does not necessarily equate with the truth. Writers can take liberties with the truth, time can distort the accuracy of memories; opinions are not to be confused with facts. The line between fact and fiction is often blurred. It is necessary to remember that we often find fact in our fiction and fiction in our facts. Despite the categories into which our lists fall for convenience of identification, virtually all genres are to some degree mixed genres.
Diaries, letters, biographies, travel books, newspapers, magazines and advertisements are all nonfiction. While much of this material is transient it can still offer many opportunities in the classroom for responding and composing. Newspapers, magazines, advertisements and such things as pamphlets and leaflets have an important place in English classrooms as texts for analysis. This material will complement the titles in this list.

Nonfiction Stage 4

Allan Baillie

Phoenix Education – ISBN: 1876580135
The lives of thirty-six exceptional Australian men, women and children are presented in this very accessible anthology. From Albert Jacka VC to Fred Hollows and Cathy Freeman, this anthology allows us to experience Australians at their best.

Crash! The Search for the Stinson

Jennifer Beck, Dyan Blacklock and Katrina Allen

Omnibus Books – ISBN: 1862913781

Using refreshing innovative design features this book retells the story of a modern Australian hero and Australian mateship in a format that should appeal to young readers. Using original sources to research and illustrate a large part of this true story of a 1937 plane crash, the authors have created a collage of facts, personal anecdotes, technical details and images which merge to produce a sense of mystery, anticipation and drama. The collage style is challenging to the reader.
Boy: Tales of Childhood

Roald Dahl

Penguin – ISBN: 0141311401
Roald Dahl’s memoir of his childhood contains some hilariously true stories. Students will enjoy the revenge on the disgusting sweetshop owner, Mrs Pratchett, and the unanaesthetised removal of tonsils. Dahl’s ability to capture the life and humour in an incident can provide a model for the telling of students’ own tales in the classroom. (See also Going Solo.)

Tolkien Bestiary

David Day

Crescent Books – ISBN: 0920080472

This companion volume to Tolkien’s fantasy world of Middle Earth provides textual descriptions accompanied by striking illustrations of places, peoples and events found in his fiction.

Zlata’s Diary

Zlata Filipovic (translated by Christina Pribichevich-Zoric)

Penguin – ISBN: 0140374639

Zlata began keeping her diary at the age of eleven, nearly eight months before the shelling of Sarajevo began. In 1991 she recorded the normal and everyday events of a schoolgirl but by March 1993 her diary was recording the devastation of her city. This wartime diary of a Sarajevo girl is a moving account of a sudden descent into war.


Brian Froud and Alan Lee

Pavilion Books – ISBN: 1862050147

This luminous collection of myths and legends about the worlds of Faerie with its elves, pixies, dryads and other mythical creatures will provide visual and textual inspiration for students. It could be used with The Hobbit and the SurLaLune Fairy Tale Pages (
Soldier Boy

Anthony Hill

Penguin – ISBN: 0141003308
Insightful, perceptive yet unsentimental, the life story of fourteen-year-old Jim Martin, the youngest known ANZAC, is skilfully woven together from letters, family recollections and imagined conversations supported by thorough and documented research. Powerful descriptions of life at the Front are coupled with equally telling accounts of the war’s impact upon Australia and its people, particularly on families like the Martins. Appendices of primary source material and the inclusion of selected black-and-white photographs of ANZAC soldiers and the Martin family add a further dimension to this stirring biography. Winner of The Ethel Turner Prize for Books for Young Adults, NSW Premier’s Award 2002.

The Faber Book of Greek Legends

Edited by Kathleen Lines

Faber and Faber – ISBN: 0571206727

Eleven authors, including Charles Lamb, Andrew Lang, Roger Lancelyn Green and Rosemary Sutcliff, provide twenty-five stories about ancient Greece including the story of the Golden Fleece and the death of Hector. This anthology is an excellent introduction to myths and legends for students.

One Thousand and One Arabian Nights

Geraldine McCaughrean

Oxford University Press – ISBN: 0192750135

Queen Shaharazad’s exciting stories told every night to her husband, King Shahryar, captivate him and prevent her own murder. These wonderful stories, freshly retold by award-winning author Geraldine McCaughrean, give students insight into the fantasy tales of the Middle East. Other Oxford Story Collections are Fairy Tales from England, Fairy Tales from Scotland, Fairy Tales from Grimm and Fairy Tales from Hans Andersen.
Bog Bodies: Mummies and Curious Corpses

Natalie Jane Prior

Allen & Unwin – ISBN: 1863735836
This small paperback draws a wide range of readers into its fascinating survey of corpses that have remained preserved over millennia through ritual or chance natural circumstances: embalmed mummies and mediaeval knights, peat-entombed murder victims and ice-bound travellers. It even peeks into future cryonics. Bog Bodies has all the reference features expected of information books but is firstly an engaging, lucidly written factual anthology generously illustrated with sketches and photographs.
Mysterious Ruins: Lost Cities and Buried Treasure

Natalie Jane Prior, illustrated by John Nicholson

Allen & Unwin – ISBN: 1863737677
This book provides information on lost cities, sunken treasure, pyramids, caves and stone monuments. All are presented as tantalising mysteries with sufficient information on each to encourage the reader to make use of the extensive ‘Further Reading’ list to seek out more details. In addition there are line drawings, maps, eight pages of coloured photographs, a glossary and an index.
Tough Stuff

Kirsty Murray, illustrated by Harry Harrison

Allen & Unwin – ISBN: 1864489294
The courage of children is portrayed in this sensitive compilation of true stories. Each story gives a short account of a young person’s experience, encompassing stories of rebellion, oppression, survival and fortune made or lost. As the stories are set in varying countries and times over the past couple of centuries, they provide a good insight into lives in times past. This book is interesting and enlightening, though sometimes confronting. It encourages readers to develop a greater understanding of the strength and courage that children can and do have when faced with adverse situations. The inclusion of the character Milo, who highlights important messages, adds to the book’s appeal for students. This book could be used to examine the idea of personal identity in relation to young people.
Stoked! Real Life, Real Surf

Glyn Parry, illustrated by Jeff Raglus

Allen & Unwin – ISBN: 1863737111
This small handbook on surfing stretches from the origins of boardriding to predictions that surfing contests will take place in constructed wave pools. History, techniques, safety, the big names – it is all here. Parry talks surfie language. He writes with humour and his topic is well researched. The text presentation is varied using subheadings, blocked summaries and interspersed with Jeff Raglus’s delightful drawings. Coloured centre photographs are attractive and give good female representation. There are references to fiction and nonfiction books, surfing biographies and magazines.
Hatchet: The Truth

Gary Paulsen

Macmillan – ISBN: 0330483625
Gary Paulsen’s ‘Hatchet’ novels of disaster and survival are widely read in schools. In this book, Paulsen describes the true-life experiences that underpin his books. This account of the inspiration and craft of writing will be of great interest to students.
The Great Deeds of Heroic Women

Retold by Maurice Saxby, illustrated by Robert Ingpen

Millennium Books – ISBN: 0855749830


The Great Deeds of Superheroes

Millennium Books – ISBN: 0855748842

These companion collections provide a wonderful introduction into the worlds of myth and legend. Women and men, gods and heroes jostle on these pages with stories of high daring and fantasy. These beautifully illustrated accounts of tales from many lands and cultures provide an excellent introduction into the world of myths and legends.
The Wanderings of Odysseus

Rosemary Sutcliff, illustrated by Alan Lee

Frances Lincoln – ISBN: 0711218463
This book (a sequel to Sutcliff’s story of the Trojan War, Black Ships Before Troy) is a retelling of Homer’s epic poem, The Odyssey. Sutcliff’s account of the many adventures of Odysseus on his ten-year journey home to Ithaca is richly rewarding. Illustrated by Alan Lee, this book won the United Kingdom Reading Association Award for 1995–6. (See also The High Deeds of Finn MacCool by the same author.)
Chinese Cinderella

Adeline Yen Mah

Puffin – ISBN: 0141304871
This true story tells of a Chinese girl who grew up in China and Hong Kong and suffered terrible emotional deprivation and rejection by her family. Adeline Yen Mah recalls the horror of those early years in this autobiography. This text will provide students with opportunities to compare the original tale with cultural aspects of the text.

Picture Books Stage 4
Papunya School Book of Country and History

Papunya School Publishing Committee; text by Nadia Wheatley; book design by Ken Searle

Allen & Unwin – ISBN: 186508526X
This story offers a viewpoint about Australia, not often told. It is an account of specific events that have impacted upon the Anangu people, from five different language groups, who came to live together at Papunya. From first contact, through to the arrival of missionaries, to Land Rights, this story has many facets and layers that unravel as the true story is told. Other topics include: Stolen Generations; health; resistance; massacres; and the Assimilation Policy. It is about two-way learning: the Anangu way and the Western way. Aboriginal language (Anangu) is used throughout the text and explained in the glossary. A useful and precise timeline is captured on each double page with the inclusion of an overall timeline that extends into three pages. A powerful, varied collection of children’s illustrations and historical photographs have been used to highlight the reality of events that took place. Individual recollections by community members have been used to combine real life experiences with facts about specific events. This is an inspirational attempt to tell it as it was, with passion and dignity.
Pilawuk: When I was Young

Janeen Brian

Era Publications – ISBN: 1863742573
This beautifully produced book is a moving oral history from an Aboriginal woman. Its understated but uncompromising statements about the Stolen Generation and the White Australia Policy are balanced by some happy childhood memories and Pilawuk’s positive outlook on life. The book uses thematic borders and photographs to enhance the text. Maps are included, but do not always adequately support the text.
Nonfiction Stage 5
This Accursed Land

Lennard Bickel

Pan Macmillan – ISBN: 0725103027
Douglas Mawson’s epic journey in 1912 across 1000 kilometres of the Antarctic continent is convincingly portrayed in this book. The tragic loss of his companions, and his own struggle back to base against the awful cold and the poison he unwittingly consumed in the dog meat he was eating, make this a remarkable story of courage and survival.
From Inside Sport

Edited by Jill Collier

Phoenix Education – ISBN: 1875695923
This collection of articles and photographs from the magazine Inside Sport represents a range of sports and addresses a number of issues. Students can read profiles of sportspeople, gain factual information about a variety of sports and consider the survey of young Australians’ attitudes to the major issues in sport. Students could investigate the characteristics of sports writing by examining several articles from this collection and then compose their own articles.
From the Ground Up

John P Coutis

Macmillan Australia – ISBN: 0732910684
John Coutis’ severe disability threatened his life on several occasions. Without his lifeless legs (which he had surgically removed) Coutis has gone on to live a full life and to tell others about it as a motivational speaker. This courageous tale told with humour and matter-of-factness will inspire many students.
Tales from a Suitcase –the Afghan Experience

Will Davies and Andrea Dal Bosco

Lothian Books – ISBN: 0734404484
Since the Soviets invaded Afghanistan in 1979, millions of Afghan people have died and millions have fled. A small number of Afghanis came to Australia and these are some of their stories. These different accounts of life in Afghanistan, the journey to Australia and life here provide a new migrant experience for students to consider.
A Boy’s Life

Jack Davis, new edition edited by Peter Bibby

Magabala Books – ISBN: 187564167X
Republished in this commemorative edition, Davis’s autobiographical book reveals his early life as a leading Aboriginal poet and playwright. His compelling anecdotes recall both ordinary and exciting boyhood experiences in country Western Australia, and exude the warmth, support and love he experienced from his family and friends. His often humorous tales display a strong admiration for his parents, and a great fondness of his siblings. He depicts sensitively a family that straddled two disparate cultures, managing to blend Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australian lifestyles. Presented as a string of yarns, this book makes for compulsive reading. The new foreword is by Wesley Enoch; Sally Morgan’s 1991 foreword has been retained.
Red Dog

Louis de Bernières

Secker & Warburg – ISBN: 0436256177
In 1998, Louis de Bernières (the author of Captain Corelli’s Mandolin) went to Western Australia to attend a literature festival. As he explored the state he was fascinated to discover a statue commemorating a dog. With a writer’s curiosity he wanted to find out why people remembered this animal so fondly. People talked to de Bernières about the personality and antics of Red Dog and their affection for the animal. Their memories and tales form the basis of this engaging book as we follow Red Dog on his travels around the state of Western Australia.
Eli’s Wings

Elizabeth Best

Viking – ISBN: 0670710597
Elizabeth suffered from anorexia nervosa, an eating disorder which is characterised by a distorted perception of body image and an intense fear of becoming obese through losing control of eating. This account shows how important family, friends and professional help are in overcoming a life-threatening condition.

Katherine Tarbox

Hodder Headline – ISBN: 0733613322 is a true story involving a 16-year-old girl and an internet stalker in the United States. Katie is a loner at school and she seeks friends through an Internet chatroom. Katie’s account of her meeting with the stalker she believes to be a friend and the subsequent court case against him makes for chilling reading. This story highlights the personal, moral and ethical dilemmas that can arise from the misuse of technology.

Letters from our Heart: The Lives of Australians through Correspondence

Edited by Jennifer Cambell

Hardie Grant Books – ISBN: 1740640535
A Franklin protester writes home, a young boy sends a letter to his missing mother, Alfred Deakin writes passionately to his wife – these are just some of the letters in this excellent collection of Australian correspondence. This anthology has an historical focus and students will benefit from looking at the letters drawn from many periods of our national life. Each letter is introduced and put into context; some have examples of the original handwriting and photographs of the correspondents. Sections include From the Heart, Our Past, The Front, The Family, Home and Far Away. This vibrant and rich collection of the art of letter writing will provide many opportunities for students’ responding and composing.
Phoenix: A Brother’s Life

J D Dolan

Picador – ISBN: 0330480332
When J D Dolan’s brother is horribly burned in an industrial accident J D sits by his bedside as he dies despite the fact that the brothers have not spoken for five years. Dolan’s reflection on growing up in a family that had a tradition of punishing through silence is an elegant and powerful elegy for his brother.
Shakespeare Stories

Leon Garfield, illustrated by Michael Foreman

Puffin – ISBN: 0140389385
Accompanied by the haunting illustrations of Michael Foreman, these powerful retellings are a wonderful introduction to the drama and passion of Shakespeare’s plays.
A Child of Hitler: Germany in the Days when God wore a Swastika

Alfons Heck

Renaissance House – ISBN: 0939650444
The Hitler Youth was a highly popular and powerful movement in Nazi Germany. This book offers an insider’s perspective about the methods of youth indoctrination employed by the directors of that movement. The author, a former high-ranking Hitler Youth leader, writes about his adolescent fascination with Adolf Hitler and gives us an insight into the power and control achieved over young and impressionable minds. It’s quite easy to incite hatred, especially in the young, and Heck has said his book is primarily a warning.
Red Scarf Girl: A Memoir of the Cultural Revolution

Ji-li Jiang

HarperCollins – ISBN: 0064462080
In 1966 when China’s leader, Mao Ze-dong, started the Cultural Revolution, life changed dramatically for Ji-li Jiang and her family. Once admired as a future leader, Ji-li Jiang was abused and insulted by those who used to respect her. Her family suffered a similar fate. This text provides students with insight about life for an ordinary family under a cultural tyranny.
Into Thin Air: A Personal Account of the Everest Disaster

Jon Krakauer

Pan Macmillian – ISBN: 0330353977
Jon Krakauer, a well-known climber and writer recounts the terrible events on Mt Everest that led to the worst single-season death toll in the peak’s history. Three expeditions are all caught in a ferocious storm. Krakauer, a member of one of the expeditions, describes the effects of altitude and exposure on the people caught on the mountain. Other expeditioners saw the tragedy differently and students can investigate other accounts of this tragedy.
Endurance: Shackleton’s Voyage

Alfred Lansing

Phoenix – ISBN: 0753809877
In 1914, Sir Ernest Shackleton and a crew of 27 set sail for Antarctica, aiming to cross the continent overland. It was two years before they returned. After their ship became trapped and then crushed in the ice they spent months on an icefloe before finally taking to boats as the floe broke up. Shackleton made the hazardous voyage back to the island of South Georgia to get help for the remainder of his team. This account relies on interviews with members of the Shackleton expedition and conveys the leadership and comradeship that enabled them all to survive in such inhospitable conditions.
My Forbidden Face: Growing Up Under the Taliban – A Young Woman’s Story


Virago – ISBN: 1860499562
This clear account of growing up under the Taliban reveals with painful honesty the devastating effects of the sudden loss of basic human rights for women and girls in Afghanistan. Latifa, a sixteen-year-old girl, and her mother and sister become virtual prisoners in their own homes as schools are closed and women are banned from working. Students may find this first-hand account a disturbing read.
The Head Book

John Marsden

Pan Macmillan – ISBN: 0330363212
John Mardsen is a well-known and popular writer of adolescent fiction. This nonfiction collection of facts and information will assist adolescent readers to fill in some gaps in their reading. Greek and Roman legends, religious backgrounds, important historical events, useful words, summaries of great books and an account of the way the Australian constitution works are all provided among other useful sections. This reference book is accessible and highly informative.
Fatal Storm

Rob Mundle

HarperCollins – ISBN: 0732269237
Ocean racing has always been risky but few sailors were prepared for the fatal storm that engulfed the 1999 Sydney to Hobart yacht race. Rob Mundle, an experienced journalist and commentator, conveys the danger of the huge seas and gale-force winds, and the heroism of the sailors and their rescuers. This dramatic and authoritative text will provide many opportunities for discussion and debate in the classroom.

Louise Sauvage: My Story

Louise Sauvage with Ian Heads

HarperCollins (Australia) – ISBN: 0732272637
Louise Sauvage’s autobiography celebrates her successes as Australia’s foremost wheelchair athlete. A three-time paralympian, Savage has won titles in everything from the marathon to short sprints. She has gained an extraordinary number of medals and awards, including the 1999 Australian Female Athlete of the Year Award and an Order of Australia Medal. This account of her life and travels emphasises the dedication and determination necessary to achieve at the elite level in her sport.
Land’s Edge

Tim Winton

Picador Australia – ISBN: 0330361104
Tim Winton’s fiction is firmly based around the coastline and this nonfiction text records and celebrates Winton’s obsession with that margin between the sea and the desert. Winton takes us to childhood places and beach shacks where reading was an afternoon occupation while the morning was for the beach. The linking of landscape and literature, of the active and the contemplative, is a message that many students will respond to as they read Winton’s lyrical prose.
Behind Media [series]

Heinemann Library

A useful background resource for units on media, this series provides extensive information on the history and development of the broadcast and print media. Similarly formatted, each book has clearly defined terminology and well organised chapters. Although references are British and American, they are accessible to Australian readers. Each volume provides a media-specific insight into how the medium works, and the creative and technical processes involved in delivering the final product. Areas covered include: uses; advantages and disadvantages; media control; sponsorship; premises and equipment; jobs; legal and ethical practices; responsibilities; cross media implications; and future trends.

Titles in this series include: Internet - ISBN: 0431114633

Radio – ISBN: 0431114625

Television - ISBN: 043111451X


At Stages 4 and 5 the English Years 710 Syllabus requires students to read, listen to and view drama. At Stage 5 the selection of texts must give students an experience of Shakespearean drama.
The task of identifying suitable plays and performances for Years 7 to 10 immediately draws attention to the problem of accessibility for the diversity of students within the age groups. There is a gulf between excessively simple scripts and a student audience already highly attuned to the sophisticated performance techniques of television and film. In some ways this gulf is addressed by material produced by Theatre-in-Education Companies. Many plays performed by Theatre-in-Education troupes focus on the lives and preoccupations of adolescents and provide relevant texts for study and performance in schools.
The works of William Shakespeare also enable teachers to provide students with a range of enriching dramatic experiences. Students will be expected to see Shakespearean plays in performance, and films based on Shakespeare’s plays, as well as to engage in workshop activities in the classroom with Shakespearean texts such as Macbeth, Julius Caesar, Romeo and Juliet, The Merchant of Venice, Much Ado About Nothing or A Midsummer Night’s Dream. As with novels and short stories, there are many plays originally written for adults, such as Oscar Wilde’s The Importance of Being Earnest, Bernard Shaw’s Pygmalion, Tennessee Williams’ The Glass Menagerie and Arthur Miller’s The Crucible that have been appropriated for adolescents and used traditionally in English classrooms.
Australian drama has an important role in the drama section of the English Years 710 Syllabus. While some Australian plays from the fifties and sixties such as Ray Lawler’s Summer of the Seventeenth Doll and Kid Stakes, Richard Beynon’s The Shifting Heart and Alan Seymour’s The One Day of the Year enable teachers to use drama to introduce teenagers to expositions of major themes in Australian postwar society, teachers should be aware of the wide range of Australian plays available. These include plays written by Aboriginal playwrights such as Jack Davis, plays that reflect the diversity of cultural groups or Australian traditions such as Hopgood’s And the Big Men Fly and plays directly written for school performance such as Tulloch’s Year Nine are Animals. Teachers should also encourage their students to attend live performances as this will assist them in understanding naturalistic and non-naturalistic theatre conventions.
Teachers can teach each of the texts on this list in a variety of ways. They may be used for public performance by students, for workshop explorations in classrooms and for study as dramatic literature. Teachers should select from the Drama list in ways that will ensure that students are given access to a wide range of dramatic texts.
Drama Stage 4
Wild Girl, Wild Boy
David Almond
Hodder Children’s BooksISBN: 0340854316

Elaine Grew’s father has died and Elaine’s grief overwhelms her. She avoids school and spends days at the allotment her father used to love. In her searching for answers, Elaine creates images and ideas that enchant. This magical play deals with grief in poetic language.

The Honey Spot

Jack Davis

Currency – ISBN: 0868191639
Jack Davis’s play for younger readers and performers has been given a beautiful setting with illustrations by Ellen Jose. The design enhances the dramatisation of the friendships between Tim, an Aboriginal boy living in a forestry house, and Peggy, the daughter of the Ranger. Peggy’s friendship with Tim helps overcome her father’s racism. A gentle and positive play offering a way for black and white to live together.

Adapted by David Calcutt from the novel by Bram Stoker

Oxford University Press – ISBN: 0198314566
Dracula is a perennial favourite in classrooms and this drama script allows immediate access into the ideas of Bram Stoker. This excellent series adapts a number of popular novels for classroom and performance and provides material that establishes the context of the play and develops key themes. (See also The LabyrinthThe Dramatised Story of Theseus and the Minotaur (David Calcutt) and Across the Barricades (John Lingard).)

Lockie Leonard Human Torpedo: The Play

Adapted by Paige Gibbs from the novel by Tim Winton

Currency – ISBN: 0868194786

This is an engaging story of first love, new school, surfing and family relationships. Lockie is new to town – his father is the local police officer, and Lockie’s in love with the smartest and prettiest girl in class. Vicki wants to grow up fast but Lockie is not so sure. This play deals sympathetically with awakening sexuality and school relationships. (See also Garry Fry’s adaptation of Tim Winton’s Lockie Leonard Scumbuster.)

David Holman

Heinemann – ISBN: 0435 23286X
In October 1988 three Californian grey whales were trapped under the Arctic ice cap at Point Barrow in Alaska. This play is based on the real events of that time. The whales named Putu, Siku and K’nik occupied the world’s attention for weeks as Inuits, Americans and Russians worked together to try and save the whales. The play begins with Inuit myth and legend and goes on to explore environmental themes and media influence. The play will provide opportunities for classroom performance, analysis and consideration of staging possibilities.

Two Weeks With The Queen: The Play

Adapted by Mary Morris from the novel by Morris Gleitzman

Currency – ISBN: 0868194018
Adapted from the best-selling novel by Morris Gleitzman, this play deals humorously and sensitively with serious issues. Colin is sent to England by his parents when his little brother is dying of leukaemia. He sets out to find the ‘best doctor in the world’; his comic cousin Alistair would like to help but stress brings on his dandruff! Colin helps a man whose friend is dying of AIDS in hospital and learns the importance of being with loved ones in a crisis.
Blabbermouth: The Play

Adapted by Mary Morris from the novel by Morris Gleitzman

Currency – ISBN: 0868194212
Blabbermouth is the adaptation of Morris Gleitzman’s novel about Rowena, a young girl who hears but cannot speak. When Rowena moves to a new country town and school, she has to establish herself despite a father who has a tendency to embarrass his daughter in public. The play explores disabilities, friendship and parent-child relationships in a humorous and sensitive way.
Spitting Chips

Peta Murray

Currency – ISBN: 0868194069
Sybil detests her name and prefers to be called Spud. Her relationship with Gary, her father, is difficult; her mother has died and Gary won’t talk about it. He has even hidden the photo album. Spud is angry with everyone, including Eric, her next door neighbour, who wants to help. Spud’s afternoon job as a companion/helper for an old woman helps her come to terms with her anger and grief. This simple and well-crafted play explores issues about family relationships and growing up.
Space Demons: The Play

Adapted by Richard Tulloch from the novel by Gillian Rubinstein

Currency – ISBN: 0868193291
This stage adaptation of Gillian Rubinstein’s novel Space Demons retains the compelling tension and fast pace of the original story without sacrificing the clever characterisation. Andrew Hayford is fascinated by his new computer game and soon he and his friends are drawn into the virtual reality of the game that frighteningly becomes their real world. Students would benefit from a comparison of the original text with the adaptation.
Body and Soul: A Musical Play

Richard Tulloch

Currency – ISBN: 0868195588
While this play is set in pre-2000 Olympic times it is still relevant with its exploration of competition and character. Tensions are apparent in the select group of young athletes at Challenge Camp Australia as they compete for limited places in the lead-up to the Sydney Games. This fast-moving play with its musical score provides opportunities for classroom production and discussion.

Drama Stage 5

Manuel Aston

Currency – ISBN: 0868193992
Fossils explores the relationship between teenagers and their parents with humour and zest. Parents are classified as homo-parentithicus or fossils and over-protective of their young. The adults in the Jones, Watson and Zeferelli families relate very differently to their children as the adolescents try to juggle growing up, school and friends as well as their parents. The play deals with these concerns with humour and understanding.
The Heartbreak Kid

Richard Barrett

Currency – ISBN: 0868191884
Set in a tough inner-city school The Heartbreak Kid explores the migrant experience and assumptions about teaching. It centres on a young teacher and her relationships with her senior students. Richard Barrett’s play has been adapted for film and television.
Jane Eyre

Adapted by Steve Barlow and Steve Skidmore from the novel by Charlotte Bronte

Oxford University Press – ISBN: 0198312962
This new adaptation of Jane Eyre provides students with an excellent introduction to the original work. Background information on the world of Jane Eyre and information on the author extends the texts. (See also A Tale of Two Cities in this series.)
This Way Out: Five Plays

Isobelle Carmody and Steve Taylor

Puffin – ISBN: 0140387048
Three of these five plays have been adapted from Isobelle Carmody’s short story collection Green Monkey Dreams. Carmody and Taylor have written two especially for this collection. The plays range from fantasy to reality and students would benefit from comparing the plays with the original stories.
Play of ‘Flowers for Algernon’

Bert Coules from the novel by Daniel Keyes

Heinmann Plays – ISBN: 0435232932
Charlie wants to be able to read and write. Although intellectually disabled he goes to night school determined to improve his skills. His motivation attracts the attention of surgeons keen to experiment with a new procedure to boost intelligence. Charlie undergoes a brain operation. The operation is initially successful and Charlie’s higher IQ dramatically changes his relationships with those around him. When the procedure begins to reverse itself Charlie’s life is shattered. This is a powerful dramatisation of Daniel Keyes’s perceptive and haunting novella. (See also in this series An Inspector Calls and The Play of Animal Farm.)
Plays from Black Australia

Jack Davis (ed)

Currency – ISBN: 0868192260
(Jack Davis: The Dreamers; Eva Johnson: Murras; Richard Walley: Coordah; Bob Maza: The Reapers)

These plays draw on a range of contemporary Aboriginal experiences. In each play there is a strong sense of family and community loyalty and determination. Their value lies in the capacity of the younger characters to maintain pride, humour and mutual respect in the face of the disintegration brought about by colonisation. Each play combines a strong narrative with a lively use of vernacular.

48 Shades of Brown

Adapted by Philip Dean from the novel by Nick Earls

Currency – ISBN: 0868196525
Dan is in his final year at school and has moved in with his 22-year-old aunt, Jacq, because his parents have gone to Europe. Jacq’s housemate, Naomi, attracts Dan’s attention away from the study he is meant to be doing. Dan’s struggles with fitting in and Jacq’s realisation of her own sexuality are handled with humour and self-deprecation. This entertaining play has been adapted from Nick Earls’ award-winning novel and contains an extensive set of teacher’s notes.
A Beautiful Life

Michael Futcher and Helen Howard

Currency – ISBN: 0868196053
When Amir sees his parents, Hamid and Jhila, on television, they’re being arrested for protesting at the Iranian embassy against atrocities in their homeland. A Beautiful Life explores what constitutes a terrorist action and the reaction of governments to protest by refugees. Prejudice, injustice, brutality, the Australian judicial system and public values are all portrayed in this demanding and confronting play.
While the play is based on the reminiscences of Iranian refugees the playwrights stress that the true events have been interpreted in a dramatic way and should not be regarded as representing historical fact.
All Stops Out

Michael Gow

Currency – ISBN: 0868193100
This play was commissioned by the Australian Performing Group as a contemporary play about the HSC experience. It follows the stories of two sets of friends confronting the HSC. It explores the implications for adolescents of such crises as the HSC and their effects on personal ambition and growth. Two boys meet and share the burden of preparation for the exam. A parallel story is told of a young girl who takes up the challenge while in gaol. A tough reporter and a young photographer link the facets of the play together. Their job is to focus media attention on the human side of the exam. The play concludes on an unusual note of optimism. It is excellent for the purposes of performance.
What is the Matter with Mary Jane?

Wendy Harmer and Sancia Robinson

Currency – ISBN: 0868194808
Based on Sancia Robinson’s own experiences this monodrama is about a recovering anorexic and bulimic. Just as Eli’s Wings (listed in the nonfiction section) explored the painful world of a girl afflicted by eating disorders, so What is the matter with Mary Jane? allows the audience to share Sancia’s journey to the discovery that her condition was an illness. This realisation is presented with humour and courage. The study guide at the end of the play provides articles and information on this life threatening illness.
Living with Lady Macbeth

Rob John

Cambridge University Press – ISBN: 0521425077
A lively play which is eminently appropriate for Stage 5. Living with Lady Macbeth explores the fantasies of a student, Lily Morgan, who has always played support roles in previous school productions but is captured by the possibilities of playing Lady Macbeth. ‘Character types’ surround Lily but it is her character’s metamorphosis that will most effectively engage students and audiences. John accesses Macbeth and the motivations of Lady Macbeth to tell Lily’s story. Excerpts from Macbeth are effectively interwoven through the play. Lily resolves to demonstrate that the other characters’ assumptions about her are misguided. Students will be able to explore Lily’s reactions to her world from which she normally hides – but not this time. There is a generous amount of humour employed as we follow Lily’s approach to auditioning for the lead role in the school play as well as her playing out of a series of vengeful fantasies to rid herself of the obstacles to her ambition. The final twist in the conclusion will require further discussion in terms of its theatrical effect and the conclusions we make about Lily’s character.
Looking for Alibrandi

Screenplay by Melina Marchetta, from her novel

Currency – ISBN: 0868196231
Anna Maria Dell’oso’s overview and an essay from author Melina Marchetta about adapting her award-winning novel Looking for Alibrandi for the screen provide a good introduction to this text. The screenplay details the story of Josephine’s last year at school in which she discovers a great deal about her family, herself and life. The text has the full screenplay and stills from the film.

Debra Oswald

Currency – ISBN: 0868191809
Dags is a modern classic of Australian young people’s theatre. This text began life as a Theatre-in-Education piece, engaging with the self-consciousness of the average teenager. Gillian is 16, suffers from pimples and is worried about not having a boyfriend. It is a play of sustained humanity and gentleness for the modern girl. Both girls and boys would recognise their own dilemmas here and, as importantly, learn to laugh at them.

Adapted by Philip Pullman from the novel by Mary Shelley

Oxford Playscript – ISBN: 0198312679
Frankenstein is among the most enduring and self-renewing of modern myths. The story is constantly recreated in both high and popular culture and in almost all modern art forms. This adaptation of the Mary Shelley novel is illustrated with woodcuts and engravings, and is accompanied by a useful series of activities to enhance students’ appreciation of the historical and dramatic features of the story. An excellent script for possible class or school presentation, it grew out of a British Theatre-in-Education project.
Could Do Better

Richard Tulloch

Currency – ISBN: 0868193046
Two Year 10 students, Scott and Cass, adopt different techniques for dealing with exams. Cass studies and Scott daydreams. Cass has something to prove and Scott knows his father is worried about his son failing his exams. Their attraction for each other leads to a tutoring arrangement that turns out to be to the advantage of both. This simple play deals with current issues for students with humour and understanding.
Burger Brain, the Fast Food Musical

Dennis Watkins, music by Chris Harriott

Currency – ISBN: 086819252X
The staff of Hacketts, the international fast food chain, is thrown into turmoil when Waldo is made manager. His change in personality is abrupt and he proves to be a harder taskmaster than the old boss. Ultimately he brings about good when the brainwashing power of the Burger Brain is exposed. Catchy songs and a large cast make this a good choice for performance.

Media and Multimedia

The English Years 7–10 Syllabus requires that students must study examples of media and multimedia texts each year. These texts should, over Stages 4 and 5, include texts drawn from radio, television, newspapers, the internet and CD-ROMs. Students will learn about the nature, scope and ethical use of information and communication technologies in society.
Students study media and its effects as a form of mass communication in their work on television, newspapers, magazines and radio. The advent of the internet, the expansion in texts and information, and the multimodal nature of these texts will create many new opportunities for students to compose and respond to complex texts in different technologies. Students will be able to evaluate the impact of multimedia texts on contemporary society and speculate on the development of such texts in the future. With a critical eye they will be able to see how ideas, information and issues are shaped and presented through technology.
Finding websites and CD-ROMS containing exciting, relevant ideas and information at an appropriate level of difficulty for students is a challenging experience for teachers – a challenge this list hopes to assist. Students need access to such texts and they need effective strategies to enable them to develop independent learning skills. Reading on the internet provides an immediate example of the differences multimedia texts can make. The conventional notion of reading from left to right and from top to bottom is challenged when images and text are not often placed in a linear fashion. The visual weight of elements on the screen is what determines our order and manner of reading. Such changes in reading and viewing illustrate just one of the differences in studying multimedia texts.
The definition of classic texts in multimedia is complicated by the swiftness with which changing technology can render texts obsolete in terms of their delivery. The very nature of websites allows a flexibility and progression that can be denied to CD-ROMs. There are classic websites and CD-ROMs that were developed early in the field. These texts have influenced current developments – and are still available or visible on current technology. In the field of digital interactivity these texts are the equivalent of classic literary works. Decisions Decisions and Riddle of the Trumpalar (Mac Classic) represented opportunities for good pedagogy and were reliable, simple and fun. They are the forerunners of many of the adventure games and CD simulations of today. Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego? and SimCity in their turn influenced a series of interactive texts such as Myst and Age of Empires. Microsoft’s Encarta remains a benchmark by which other multimedia encyclopedias are judged because of its use of multimedia and integrating sound, video, pictures and text. A classic website is the oldest unchanged web page in the world
The study of media and multimedia texts in New South Wales schools will continue to develop as interactivity and ingenuity in such texts makes use of changing technology.
Media and Multimedia Stage 4
Australian Museums and Galleries on Line is a practical guide and support to a wide range of subjects including English. There are two very practical links for students: the most appropriate for Stage 5 students, ‘Stories from Museums and Galleries’ contains a range of stories from the various sources presented in a logical and interactive format; the other, ‘Discovernet’ has a wide range of Stage 4 support material, including such exercises as how to make your own exhibition.
Biography is a useful starting point for source information about historical figures as well as authors, movie stars and other popular contemporary personalities. This is a useful site to have students commence a more thorough study of an individual. It is a website that lends itself to the pleasures of surfing.
Children’s Literature Web Guide includes information about books, an ‘Ask the Author’ section, and links to other sites on books and films. The Children’s Literature Web Guide gathers together and categorises internet resources related to books for children and young adults. The information is generally provided by fans, schools, libraries, and commercial enterprises involved in the book world.
ELAC Theatre has a range of support for theatre study. The site offers the possibility of publishing plays, reading other submitted plays, and guidance to the art, craft and business of playwriting. The sublink to ‘monologues’ is a very practical additional site for student performance.
Kangaroos faces in the mob (G)

Directed by Jan Aldenhoven and Glen Carruthers

ABC video
Eastern Grey Kangaroos are the stars of this wildlife feature. Their complex and sophisticated society is explored in this detailed documentary. The film provides opportunities for student discussion and analysis of the soundtrack, text and cinematography and the contribution they make to the documentary.
Focus on Fiction promotes the reading of fiction for enjoyment as well as developing students’ literacy skills. This site presents excellent links to information about publishers, authors and literature on the web and is a useful resource for research for students as well as a programming support for teachers. It has links to book awards, biographical information on authors and teaching suggestions.
Gary Paulsen is Paulsen’s ‘official’ website and provides a source of general information about the author and his work. It lists his various novels and provides support for teaching programs, biographical information, answers to frequently asked questions, information about survival and his upcoming work and personal adventures.
Katherine Paterson is this author’s ‘official’ website and provides a source of general information about the author and her work. There is special emphasis on her most successful novel. It lists her other texts, biographical information, answers to frequently asked questions, reviews, visual images and soundtracks to shows based on her novels.
Kids Love a Mystery is a site created as a literacy project of Mystery Writers Of America and It brings together authors who write for juvenile and young adult readers. Its specific goal is to increase literacy through a recognition that mystery writing is the most popular genre as determined by student selection.
Legends provides guided access to primary source material and scholarship on traditional legends from a range of cultural backgrounds. The site contains essays and reviews, historical background and commentary. Students will be able to read a variety of legends and assess the quality of the support material that is readily accessible. The legends emphasise romance and adventure. It offers links to other relevant sites and accesses visual libraries as well as annotated legends from ‘Beowulf’ to ‘Robin Hood’. It is easily navigated and may be useful for both Stages 4 and 5.
Morris Gleitzman website is Gleitzman’s ‘official’ website and provides a source of general information about the author and his work. There are details about several of his novels and other products, excerpts from his texts and answers to frequently asked questions.
NASA offers an enjoyable and practical way for students to learn about NASA’s activities and science, using interactive tools. NASA Kids is an online or printable resource designed for students aged 5 to 14. This may be an appropriate site for students who have not yet reached the Stage 4 outcomes. Liftoff to Space Exploration has been designed to cater for older students. It is a more challenging site which contains a wide range of material. NASA Human Spaceflight offers space travel oriented information. Each of these sites is useful for research and student interaction.
Official Roald Dahl website is Dahl’s ‘official’ website and provides a source of general information about the author and his work. It contains a number of visual images and other source material.
Poets’ Corner offers a diverse and user-friendly library of poems. The materials on display are selected from an inventory of thousands of works by hundreds of authors, transcribed and gathered from around the world. There are over 780 poets and 6700 poems represented on this site. The poems are clearly presented and gathered under title, poet’s name and themes. Some images of the poets and reference material on the works are also available. This site would be useful for Stage 5 as well.
Pirates! Facts and legends is an interactive and informative site that provides details about piracy including the historical background of pirates with specific references to the types of pirates, pirate legends, and pirate ships. There are also further reading references and web links. This is a valuable site to use in conjunction with a unit of work on pirates.

Round the Twist (G)

Directed by Esben Storm, Ray Boseley and Chris Anastassiades

ABC Television program

This series of nine outrageous tales about the Twist family will appeal to students’ sense of humour while providing a model for comic writing. Paul Jennings’ stories have been translated to the screen with suitably exaggerated performances.
Secrets Can Kill Nancy Drew This interactive mystery game offers students the opportunity to work through the game either as an individual activity or in small groups. The game encourages them to solve a murder mystery. There are visual literacy skills as a central focus of the mystery as well as the need to follow clues provided by characters who ‘you’ meet and interview as you move from scene to scene to unravel the case. The students will need to make notes and identify those clues which will solve the case. It is a relatively simple program to follow.
Star Wars: The Magic of Myth US National Space and Air Museum virtual online exhibition of the first three Star Wars films, Episodes IV-VI. This site contains a myriad of visual images, resource information, sound effects, commentary by James Earl Jones (the voice of Darth Vader) and interactive possibilities for students. There is a virtual web tour of many artifacts from these films that were either altered or rejected in the developmental stages.
SurLaLune Fairy Tale Pages provides a range of annotated fairy tales from around the world as well as folklore studies and recommendations for additional texts for teachers. For the annotated texts there are historical details, editorials for the given annotations, illustrations, historical background and cross-cultural links.

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