Mentor Text Review- Mrs White and the Red Desert

Narrative Mentor Text with teaching suggestions
  • Author: Josie Boyle
  • Illustrator: Maggie Prewett
  • Publisher: Magabala Books

Mrs White and the Red Desert by Josie Boyle and Maggie Prewett tells the story of a family who lives in the dusty red outback. The children’s teacher visits them at home and soon discovers the reason their homework is always grubby.

Suggestions for Using this mentor text to teach writing:

IDEAS: This is an example of a story that has been developed potentially from personal experience (living in the outback). It includes numerous details that make us feel the author’s credibility to write about the topic. The beautiful and detailed explanations of the sights and sounds of the setting help provide a unique perspective on the topic as well as demonstrate the author’s wonderful skill with word choice.

WORD CHOICE: There are plenty of tier 2 words that could be investigated in this text (buckled, higgledy-piggledy, raced, crying out, clattering, etc.). This would also be a great mentor text for learning about effective use of noun groups (‘Hot desert winds blew through rusty old nail holes and wooden shutters’.)

SENTENCE FLUENCY: Look at the various sentence types in here, including complex sentences that students could craft from (‘When we got home, our lovely clean house was in a big red mess’).

Suggestions for Using this mentor text to teach reading:

PREDICTING: Students could use the title and front cover to make predictions about what the story could be about. You could discuss the setting here and possible problems that could arise in the story.

MAKING CONNECTIONS: Students could make connections between this setting and the setting in other texts (such as Dry to Dry by Pamela Freeman) or students’ own homes. What is similar? What is different?

VISUALISING: Students could practice using the descriptive noun groups to help them visualise the setting in the story. They could then have a go at using the senses (and noun groups) to describe parts of their own house.

SUMMARISING: Students could summarise the story using the ‘first, next finally’ framework.

What’s a bookplate?

A PDF version of this review that you can print and put inside the front cover of the book.

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