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Sir Francis Drake

Everest - Thursday

English - Comprension


Matt Haig uses a lot of dialogue (direct speech where a character is talking) within this extract. Read the extract below and while reading, think about what job the dialogue is doing.

Is the dialogue:

  • telling us more about a character?
  • moving the story on?


Activity 1

Extract 1

That was very odd, you falling asleep like that,’ his mum commented. ‘I think we might need to take you to hospital to get you checked out.’

‘I’m all right now. I think I’m feeling better.’

But then, while he sat on the sofa watching TV with his mum, his arms started itching and he began to rub them.

‘Barney, don’t do that. You’ll make them sore,’ Mum said, switching from polar bears to a quiz show.

‘I can’t help it.’ He unbuttoned one of his cuffs, rolled up the sleeve and started to scratch the skin directly. ‘They’re so itchy.’

As he scratched he saw one, then two, then three thick black hairs on his right arm. They were pure jet-black, way darker than his normal mousy mid-brown hair colour, and were arranged like points in a neat line just below his wrist.

‘Mum, look – these hairs.’

‘Oh yes, you’re turning into a man. Well, now that you’re nearly a teenager you’ll be starting to get hairy all over the place.’

‘But they’re weird. They’re black. I don’t have black hair. And they weren’t there yesterday. They weren’t even there this afternoon. I don’t want to turn into a man that quickly.’

She wasn’t listening. She was too busy looking at his forehead. ‘What is it?’ Barney asked her. ‘Oh dear, I’ll just get the tweezers,’ she said, before disappearing up to her bedroom. Meanwhile, Barney went to look in the hallway mirror to see what the matter was. There, right in the middle of his forehead, was another thick black hair.

Learn to explain how dialogue can convey character and move the action on

  • Using Extract 1, point to, highlight or underline any dialogue (direct speech, what a character is saying). Say it aloud and use expression to show how the character is feeling when you are saying the words.

Think about the relationship between the writer (Matt Haig) and the reader (you).

  • Which examples of dialogue had an impact on you?
  • When you read the extract, which dialogue struck a chord with you as the reader?
  • Think about how successful the dialogue is.

Make a table like the one below, write down the dialogue that you liked or found interesting. In the next column, write about how this helps you to understand the character or moves the action along (or both!). In the third column, explain what this combination shows to you, the reader.

Example Of Dialogue Convey Character Or Move On The Action Impact On The Reader
“Mum, look- these hairs.” Both – tells us about how Barney feels and makes Mum look The punctuation in this dialogue shows us how Barney speaks. He pauses at the comma and the dash. This is to show how nervous and scared he is. It is short too, showing Barney has no words - he is in shock!


Activity 2

Extract 2

This was his bed. This was his room. But everything had grown beyond all possibility.

The wardrobe was the size of a house. The bedside lamp peered down at him like some strange armless robot. The door was miles away. And the school uniform which hung over his chair belonged to a giant.

Next he saw something which made even less sense.

His hands, or his feet – he couldn’t tell which – were entirely covered with hair. And they were fingerless. Toeless. He turned his head to see what he had only felt so far. A tail. Curled into a quivering kind of question mark, as though the rest of his body was a query wanting an answer.

It was impossible.

He was still Barney. His ‘Barney-ness’ was still there in his head, his mind still the same bulging suitcase of memories and emotions. But at the same time he already knew he wasn’t him at all. He was something else. Something so impossible that he thought this had to be a dream, like the one he’d had about his father.

He blinked, and then blinked some more. No. There was no doubt about it. He was awake.

Indeed, he was as awake as he had ever been. So, to his horror, he had to believe what his eyes were telling him, and what the black hair and the tail and the paws were telling him. And what they were telling him was this: he may have gone to bed human, but he had woken up unquestionably, unmistakably, unimaginably cat.

Can you explain where your impressions of the story come from?

  • Re-read this extract and think about what impressions you get of Barney’s room (from his new perspective).
  • When you are thinking of your ‘impression’ keep it very simple. You only need one or two words.
  • Then, find the evidence in the text that supports what you think.
Impression Of Barney’s Room Evidence From The Text
Scary ‘The bedside lamp peered down on him like some strange armless robot.’


Activity 3

Try writing in the style of Matt Haig

Re-read both extracts and think about Matt Haig’s style as an author using these questions.

  • What is his relationship with his reader like? (For example, he lets us in to the narrative and trusts us).
  • What is his style? (For example, he uses dialogue and he uses description).
  • What type of vocabulary does he use? (For example, he uses relevant vocabulary and it is not too challenging).
  • What do you think will happen in the next chapter?

Think about these headings and challenge yourself to write the next chapter, use these five points to start you off.

  1. How will your chapter start?
  2. Will you end the chapter on a cliff hanger?
  3. Which character(s) will be in your chapter?
  4. Will there be any dialogue and what job will it do?
  5. What impact do you want to have on your reader and how do you want them to feel at the end of your chapter?



Learn - Where is the Lake District?

The Lake District is a national park and World Heritage Site in North West England.

It is home to Scafell Pike, the highest mountain in England, and Wastwater, the deepest lake.

It is popular with both day visitors and holidaymakers because of its beautiful mountains and lakes.

What is it like in the Lake District?

The landscapes of the Lake District have been created over millions and millions of years.

Rocks such as sandstonelimestone and granite gradually formed in layers.

Next, tectonic plates created volcanoes and also pushed the rock up to create high mountains.

Two million years ago, icy glaciers covered the mountains and as the glaciers slowly crept down the mountains, they picked up pieces of rock, which eroded the mountains and created valleys.

When the ice melted, these valleys filled up with the melted water and created deep lakes and small crevices made by the ice at the tops of mountains filled with water to create tarns.

The Lake District is home to lots of plants and animals and also people, who live in towns such as Keswick and Windermere.

Tourism is an important industry in the Lake District, with over 12 million visitors every year who come to walk, cycle, run, boat or just to look at the amazing scenery.

Windermere is the largest lake in England
Scafell Pike (Left bacground) is the tallest peak in Britain
Lots of otters can be found in the Lake District
Red squirrel numbers have fallen in the UK. However, many can still be found in the Lake District



Read this article about the Lake District here 

and watch this clip about tourism in  the Lake District.


Write a short newspaper or magazine article.

It needs to:

  • give information about the Lake District
  • persuade people to visit the area

Please type up your work and send it to me.