Mentor Text Review: Matthew Flinders: Adventures on Leaky Ships

6 traits writing mentor text information writing

Matthew Flinders: Adventures on Leaky Ships, written by Carole Wilkinson and illustrated by Prue Pittock introduces the reader to the human side of Matthew Flinders by looking at his life before, during and after his explorations of Australia. This book is told in non-fiction narrative format and provides a refreshing approach to teaching younger readers about early European explorations of the great southern land.

Suggestions For Using This Mentor Text To Teach Writing:

IDEAS: This text would be the ideal mentor text for helping students to learn about how to add important details to their non-fiction writing. Carole Wilkinson does an excellent job of packing her sentences with key details, through the use of complex and compound sentences (SENTENCE FLUENCY). Students could study different fact filled sentences and then have a go at combining their own information into a single sentence in a similar way (e.g., ‘It wasn’t Matthew’s childhood in the quiet village of Donington that made him long for adventures at sea, it was a book called Robinson Crusoe.’ = 4 facts, 1 sentence). Another aspect of IDEAS that could be explored in this text is the idea of telling the story/ giving the information in a unique way. The nonfiction narrative format gives all the usual Matthew Flinders exploration facts with the addition of unique extra tidbits that make those facts more
interesting (e.g., the addition of the details about his cat Trim and his love for Ann Chappell).

Suggestions For Using This Mentor Text To Teach Reading:

DETERMINING IMPORTANCE: There’s plenty of opportunity for students to practice determining importance in this text. There’s also room to discuss the idea of who the info might be important to? And when? (E.g., If you’re doing a project on early mapping of Australia you just want dates and names vs if you’re talking to someone about the history of Australian place names you want stories to share.) The work you do on determining importance could lead to explicit lessons on the important skill of skimming and scanning text to find specific information and keywords.

QUESTIONING: Now that you’ve read this book what else do you want to know? Where could you go to seek this information? Finally, the storyboard-style timeline at the back of the book could be used as by students to model a reader’s notebook exercise for another book.

Read my interview with author Carole Wilkinson here.

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