Mentor Text Review: the Gift

  • Author and illustrator: Michael Speechley
  • Publisher: Penguin Australia

The Gift, by Michael Speechley, is a heart-warming book about loneliness, kindness and friendship. Rosie was lonely after she lost her mum. She believed her neighbour might also be lonely so she decided to give her an extra special and interesting gift to cheer her up…

Suggestions For Using This Mentor Text To Teach Writing:

IDEAS: This book promotes the idea of random acts of kindness (RAKs) for others. What other RAKs do your students know of? How could these be used as the basis for their own story?

ORGANISATION: Michael Speechley uses a clever technique to pull us in at the start of the book- he creates an ‘othering’ by saying that ‘most people thought…but Rosie knew.’ As readers, we want to know what makes Rosie different from ‘most’ people? Can your students do this in their own writing? In addition to this strong lead, a clear resolution is provided to round of all the wonderings we have as we read through the book.

WORD CHOICE: There are lots of tier 2 words in this book (e.g., sipped, gently, drifted by, stepped through, unloved). Encourage students to spot the noun group phrases (such as darkening street, wonky steps, heavy front doors, unloved garden, creaky steps, lovely floral cups) and use these to have a go at creating some of their own.

SENTENCE FLUENCY: Study the varying sentence lengths in this story and use this as a mentor text for examining simple, compound and complex sentences.

Suggestions For Using This Mentor Text To Teach Reading:

PREDICTING: Encourage students to use all the clues available to them on the front cover to predict what this story will be about. Have you read any of the author’s other books? How might that help with your prediction? Encourage students to revise their predictions as they go through the story. When they reach the end, ask them if there was anything they missed during the story that could have given them a clue to the ending? (To help inform future predictions they make when reading) E.g., could they have gleaned more information from the illustrations?

INFERRING: Create a character profile on Rosie- what do you know about her? What type of person is she? What makes you think that? What clues/ information have informed your thinking?

SUMMARISING: Encourage students to use the ‘first, next, then, after’ structure to practise summarising this text.