Mentor Text Review: Cannonball

Narrative Mentor Text Oz Lit Teacher
  • Author: Sascha Cotter
  • Illustrator: Josh Morgan
  • Publisher: Sourcebooks

Cannonball, written by New Zealand author Sacha Cotter (illustrations by Josh Morgan) is a gorgeous book about a young boy’s attempt to pull off one of the most coveted pool moves going around- the cannonball bomb. It’s a book about being yourself, not giving in to peer pressure and being confident to do things your own way.

Suggestions For Using This Mentor Text To Teach Writing:

IDEAS: Nearly everyone who’s been to the pool would have a story about learning to do bombs into the water. The personal connections readers can make to this text make it a springboard for ideas for writing. This is yet another example of a narrative that has come from the author’s own personal experience.

ORGANISATION: This book follows a familiar narrative pattern of failure, failure, regroup and try something new, success. Sequence and transition words gently guide the reader through this text (sometimes, still, once again).

VOICE: This a great example of the unique sentence creation that makes up individual voice. Specific words are chosen and crafted in a ‘just so’ way to create a unique and fresh voice. (e.g., Me, before I jump, I whisper.)

SENTENCE FLUENCY: The addition of rhyming couplets in parts of this text add to the voice and rhythmic flow of sentences. The author has been careful not to overdo it though- use this device sparingly for maximum effect.

WORD CHOICE: Plenty of tier 2 words can be found in this text (ritual, swooping, flair) as well as tier 3 words that show subject knowledge (knee lock, bottle pop, coffin drop.)

Suggestions For Using This Mentor Text To Teach Reading:

INFERRING: Lots of clues can be gleaned from the illustrations. Teach students to use these to help draw inferences (How is the character feeling? What might he be thinking at this stage? What might he do next?)

MAKING CONNECTIONS: Pull out your writer’s notebook and make a list of all the memories this book raises for you. (Who were you at the pool with? What are your names for the bombs you did? When have you been unable to do something everyone else can do?) It would also be worth considering making connections to other books with a similar structure (what other books / movies do you know of where the main character has failed a few times before they’ve ultimately been successful? How is this book similar or different?)

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