“Whatever Wanda Wants

In children's books on September 9, 2009 at 11:20 pm

Publisher: Gullane Children’s Books

Brief Synopsis

Wanda was a spoilt little girl whose parents got her everything she wanted, because they had no time for her. Whatever someone else had, she wanted too. One day, she walked into a shop and saw a magnificent kite. The shopkeeper said it was not for sale but she would not listen. The kite took Wanda onto a desert island, and Wanda had to learn to survive. She grew to love her new life and made friends with Bill the whale. Because she really missed her family, Bill took her home. Wanda learnt that “there’s more to life than things”.

Main Focus

Materialism, Family

Year Levels

Year 3-4

Teaching Points

1. Materialism

Wanda w

2. Family


This is a delightful story with a wonderful moral. It’s something that every child would be able to understand and relate to, being in a society that prides itself on consumerism and materialism.


1. Story Sequencing

Using selected pages of illustration, the teacher can  jumble the pictures up and have the student try to put it in sequence and retell the story. This can be done either in writing, in speaking, or creating an online storyboard.

2. “Missing” Poster

Get the class to create a missing poster of Wanda when she is stranded on the desert island. How would they describe her? What information would they provide about her? Would her parents give a reward if she is found? Get them to work on it in small groups and share.

3. Stranded!

Imagine you are stranded on an island. What are three things that you would like to have on you, and why? Alternatively, get the class to think about what they might discover on the island and how these can be used for survival.


“The Saddest King” by Chris Wormell

In children's books on August 24, 2009 at 5:20 pm

Publisher: Random House Group

Brief Synopsis

There was once a country where everyone was happy, no matter what happened to them. However, they were happy against their choice- it was banned being sad, cross or miserable. A little boy broke the law one day by crying, and he was taking away by the palace guards to meet the King. He convinced the King that it was okay to be sad, because “you have to be the way you feel”. The King tore up the special order and people were allowed to feel how they wanted to.

Main Focus


Year Levels

Year 3-4

Teaching Points

1. Happiness

In The Saddest King, everyone in the country is always happy, no  matter what happens to them. Do you think this is possible? What does happiness mean to you? When do you feel happy and when do you not?

2. Being True To Yourself

The little boy was crying because his dog got ill and had died. He couldn’t be cheered up no matter what people tried to do, and didn’t stop when the palace guards came to take him away. He dared to speak up to the King and maintain his position. What would you have done if you were in his shoes? Tell the class the important of being true to yourself and standing up for what you believe in.

3. Feelings

“It’s alright to be sad. Everybody needs to be sad sometimes.”

The boy reminds the King that we should be allowed to have different emotions for different situations in our lives. What are some instances when it is alright to be sad? Can you think of other times when it is alright to feel a certain way?


The story ends inconclusively, unlike the typical happy endings in children’s books. However, this can be used as a way of challenging the students to find meaning in the story.


1. Feelings Chart

As a group activity, have the class think of all the different feelings that a person can have- happy, sad, angry, disappointed etc. Then have them think of a situation when they would feel that way, using key words or pictures to explain. They can then present their discussion to the class.

This can also be done as an individual written activity – “I feel __________ when…” and have them come up with 5 sentences. They can submit it as homework or share it with their friends in class.

2. Wearing A Mask

The King wears a Happy mask so that he can always appear happy to his people. Have the students each design a mask that they would like to wear when they are with others. This can be in any emotion. Get them to explain why they have chosen that expression, and why that emotion is important to them.

3. Acting Workship

This is a great story for acting out. Assign roles to different students- one can be the boy, another the king and two the palace guards, the rest can be the commoners. They can follow the script closely or you can have them intepret it in a way they like, according to the level of the students.

“Running Shoes” by Frederick Lipp

In children's books on August 24, 2009 at 5:15 pm

Publisher: Evans Publishing

Brief Synopsis

Running Shoes is the story of Sophy, a girl in a village who has a secret wish of attending school. She receives a pair of running shoes from the Number Man and runs 8 kilometres to school everyday. The class was all boys but Sophy perservered and learnt to read and write. A year later, when the Number man returns, she writes him a Thank You message in the sand.

Main Focus

Education, Kindness

Year Levels

Year 5-6

Teaching Points

1. Education

Sophy has a secret wish to attend school and fights all odds to achieve her dream. Explain to the class that in some countries, especially poorer countries, education is not compulsory or easily available. As detailed in the story, it is also usually the boys who gets educated while girls stay at home. Is this fair?  Why does this happen? Get them to discuss the importance of education.

2. Kindness

The Number Man saw Sophy admiring his shoes and takes her measurements so that he could send her a pair. It is because of his kindness that she is able to travel the 8 km to go to school. Ask the class what kindness means to them and if they have experienced or shown kindness in their lives.


This is a great story of how a girl’s determination to study overcamethe obstacles she faced, and how the kindness of one person allowed her to achieve her dream. Because this story is set in Cambodia and tells the reality of life there, it can also be used as a material for Global Education class.


1. Story Retelling

After the teacher has read the story to the class, get the class to get into small groups and take turns to retell the story in their own words.

2. Global Education

In the book, Sophy’s village has no school and she has to travel 8 kilometers on foot to get there. The classroom is made up of just boys. Education in Cambodia is very different to education in Australia. Have the class research on what education is like in various countries and present the differences they have found. This can take the form of a chart or a powerpoint presentation.

3. Taking Action

A pair of running shoes can make a big difference in the life of a Cambodian girl. Imagine what 10 pairs of shoes can do. Or a 100! Get students to take action and become involved in improving the lives of children their age who come from more unfortunate circumstances.

Under the guidance of the teacher, they can find out what they can do through not-for-profit organizations, and become involved by raising money or collecting items to send to these children.