Willard Price

 

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Willard Price, Whale Adventure

English Lesson Plans

(Copyright © Ruth Marshall, 2005)

These are the plans for four weeks' worth of English lessons completed with three of my sons, ages 13, 11, and 9. We spent roughly three or four days on each passage.

Why did we choose this book? Several reasons. Here they are, not listed in any order of priority.

bulletWe all enjoy Willard Price’s adventure books.
bulletWe have two copies of Whale Adventure: one for me to use for dictation, and one for my 9-year-old to use for copywork. (Hardback edition published by Jonathan Cape; Paperback published by Knight Books, Hodder & Stoughton)
bulletWe are currently reading Willard Price’s My Own Life of Adventure as one of our family read-alouds.
bulletThe boys were keen to write another Hal and Roger story during their writing time.

Passage 1

(Hardback edition – p. 12-13; Paperback edition – p. 8)

    Reaching the edge of the dock they climbed down a ladder into a waiting launch and were taken out towards the great bird with the twenty white wings. The closer they came the more uneasy they grew. For the ship was not white and beautiful like its sails. It was black evil-looking hulk, and from it drifted the strong smell of whale oil and rancid blubber.
    Now the name of the bark could be seen on the stern and it was not a pretty name. Killer was the name, and the home port was St Helena. 

To Do

1. Copy the passage (All three boys)

2. Grammar & punctuation

bulletRemember to indent for each new paragraph.
bulletThe name of the ship, Killer, is in italics. When copying this out, you should underline the name.
bullet“Its sails” – why is it “its” and not “it’s”? [Note: I forgot to point this out, but no doubt there will be other opportunities!]

3. Vocabulary

bulletLook up the following words in the dictionary:
bulletHulk (Note the two meanings: something large and bulky, and a ship – which in previous centuries may have been used as a prison. Note also the derivation of this word – ultimately from the Greek word for a cargo ship)
bulletRancid
bulletBark
bulletBlubber

4. Literature

bullet“The great bird with the twenty white wings”
bulletFigure of speech – metaphor. (How would we make it a simile?)
bulletWhy is the ship described as a bird? Discuss. Possible answers:
bulletAborigines & others who had never seen a sailing ship assumed that they were birds when they first saw one.
bulletSails look like the wings of a bird in flight.
bulletShips / sea birds float in water.
bulletWhen a ship is being pushed along by the wind, it’s like birds being pushed along by the wind.
bullet“The closer they came the more uneasy they grew”. Was there any real reason for this? (Foreshadowing – adds suspense to the plot by indicating that something is going to happen). What other word or words help to introduce this element of suspense?

5. Activity

bulletDiscuss the synonyms for boats used in this passage. Use a Thesaurus to look up more synonyms. Read the passage aloud and substitute other synonyms for launch, ship, hulk, and bark.

Passage 2

(Hardback edition – p. 20; Paperback edition – p. 16)

    It was dark. There were no portholes. The only light came from two sputtering whale-oil lamps. They also sent out black smoke and nauseating fumes.
    There were other smells, walls of them, waves of them, smells so strong that they seemed like something solid that could only be cut through with a hatchet or a knife. Clothes hanging from pegs stank of dead whales. There was no ventilation except through the half-opened hatch. That would be closed in rough weather. There was a smell of mouldy rags and mildewed boots and unwashed bodies and decayed food. And the heat made all the smells more suffocating.

To Do

1. Write the passage from dictation (13 and 11 year-olds) – or copy it (9 year-old) – When dictating, include punctuation.

2. Grammar & punctuation

bulletNote compound words
bulletReview (or explain) definition of an adjective – “a describing word”, or “one that modifies a noun or pronoun”. (Review nouns & pronouns if necessary).

3. Vocabulary

bulletLook up the following words in the dictionary:
bulletNauseating
bulletVentilation
bulletMildewed
bulletSuffocating

4. Literature

bulletWhy is this passage included in the book? (And no, it is not "to bore the reader and put him off the story"!!!) – Discuss passages that use the senses – refer back to last week’s selection. What senses are employed there? Also look at other descriptions in the book that use the sense of hearing and of touch.

5. Activity

bulletTake the print-out of the passage (see here) and insert suitable adjectives in the spaces provided. You don’t need to use the ones Willard Price used, but synonyms would be a good idea.
bulletFree writing – Begin work on your own Hal and Roger story. Suggestions for titles: Outback Adventure; Australian Adventure; Bush Adventure.
bulletDiscuss the elements that go into Willard Price’s Adventure stories, and make a list, so you can refer back to it as you write your own story. This was the list we compiled:

Things we find in the Hal and Roger books

bulletHal and Roger (and their father, John Hunt)
bulletSometimes there are characters from other books (goodies or baddies)
bulletTravelling
bulletAdventure – always some bad guy
bulletAnimals
bulletAlways someone with them – a leader or guide – who shows them around and explains things to them
bulletPractical information
bulletDanger!
bulletRoger (and sometimes Hal, but not always) lands himself in some life-threatening situation
bulletAt the end, all’s well that ends well
bulletThe end of the book says where they are going next

Passage 3

(Hardback edition – p. 56; Paperback edition – p. 54)

    Roger’s first act was to fall flat on his face. The captain had not been fooling. The whale’s back was slippery. It was more slippery than any dance-floor.
    The whale’s skin is not wrinkled like an elephant’s or rhino’s. It is not hairy like the hide of a buffalo or lion. It has no scales like those of a fish. It is as smooth as glass.
    Worse than that, it is like greased glass. Oil from the blubber beneath it oozes up through it, filling the pores so as to keep out the cold and enable the monster to slide through the water like a streamlined submarine.

To Do

1. Write the passage from dictation (13 and 11 year-olds) – or copy it (9 year-old).

2. Grammar & punctuation

bulletDiscuss punctuation. When dictating the first two paragraphs, read one sentence at a time (but do not announce full stops) – they should be fairly self-explanatory.
bulletNote compound words.
Explain that some compound words use hyphens and others don’t. Can you give examples of other compound words.

3. Vocabulary

bulletLook up submarine in the dictionary:
bulletNote the derivation of the word – Can you think of any other words beginning with the prefix “sub”? Use a dictionary, if need be.
bulletDo you know what the prefix is that means “above/over”? What other prefixes can you think of? (Mummy read & summarise section on prefixes from Nicholas Hudson’s Modern Australian Usage – Note the various kinds of prefix: numerical, negative, and adverbial).

4. Literature

bulletWhat senses are appealed to in this passage?
bulletNote the variation in sentence length. Most of the sentences here are very short, until the final one. Why might an author do this?
bulletSimiles – e.g. “wrinkled like an elephant’s”; “as smooth as glass”; “like greased glass”; “slide through the water like a streamlined submarine”
bulletAlliteration – “fall flat on his face”; “hairy like the hide”; “greased glass”; “slide through the water like a streamlined submarine

5. Activity

bulletFree writing – Continue work on your adventure story. We plan to allow 10 minutes a day for this. (Older children may type up their own and edit it as they go; I will type for younger ones, and we will edit together).

Passage 4

(Hardback edition – p. 145; Paperback edition – p. 143-144)

    The whales were a talkative lot. As they dipped, swooped and slid about, they grunted like rhinoceroses, squealed like elephants and bellowed like bulls. Hal remembered the groans of the suffering whale that had carried him so far across the sea. But he had not imagined that the monsters could make so many different sounds.
    Evidently they were highly excited. They were having fun with the ship. Perhaps they instinctively knew that they were terrifying the humans on board.
    They dived beneath the vessel on one side and came up on the other. One shot up so high that his great box of a head was above the deck. His skull was twice as big as the crate that is used to pack a grand piano. He dropped again into the sea with a thundering splash that sent a shower of spray over the men on deck.
    One took to butting the rudder. The wheel was jerked out of the helmsman’s hands and went spinning. Luckily the playful beast desisted from this game before completely wrecking the steering-gear of the ship.
    There was a crackle and crash up forward.
    “There goes the bowsprit,” exclaimed the mate.

To Do

1. Write the passage from dictation (13 and 11 year-olds) – or copy it (9 year-old).
This was a bit long for one session – we dictated the first paragraph, but used the whole selection for the activities below.

2. Grammar & punctuation

bulletNote commas in lists (in the second sentence). [Note: the paperback version includes commas after “swooped” and “elephants”, while the hardback version doesn’t. Point out that different people follow different rules on this (see Hudson, Modern Australian Usage). Either will do, but be consistent!
bulletNew paragraph and quotation marks for the mate’s speech. (How else could this paragraph have been punctuated? i.e. Exclamation mark.)

3. Vocabulary

bulletLook up the following words in the dictionary:
bulletInstinctively
bulletDesist
bulletBowsprit

4. Literature

bulletWhat senses are appealed to in this passage?
bullet“Sound” words – make a list of those used in these paragraphs. How many of these words sound like the sound they are intended to convey? (This is called onomatopoeia). Can you think of any other sound words that do the same thing?

5. Activity

bulletFree writing – Continue work on your adventure story.

Passage 2 Activity

Insert suitable adjectives in the spaces provided:

    It was ____________. There were no portholes. The only light came from two ____________ whale-oil lamps. They also sent out ____________ smoke and ____________ fumes.
    There were other smells, walls of them, waves of them, smells so ____________ that they seemed like something solid that could only be cut through with a hatchet or a knife. Clothes hanging from pegs stank of ____________ whales. There was no ventilation except through the ____________ hatch. That would be closed in ____________ weather. There was a smell of ____________ rags and ____________ boots and ____________ bodies and ____________ food. And the heat made all the smells more ____________.

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