Ask the pupils to "sculpt" Mum, big sister and Tony into the scene when he is about to leave for school. Read Mum's line, "Right you off?" Ask the pupils who they think would speak next and what they would say. The characters remain frozen, while the pupil who has suggested the next line goes to stand behind the character they will speak for. Re-read Mum's line, at the end of which the pupil will speak the next line.
Ask the pupils what they think the characters would say next. Ask the individual pupils to go and stand by the character who they think they can speak for. Freeze the scene again, after you have explained that one by one the people behind the sculpted characters will continue the scene by speaking their thoughts or speech. Using Communal Voice continue the conversation between Mum, his sister and Tony. Strip the voices away and, if appropriate, ask the two sculpted characters to continue the conversation.
Return to the sculpted image. Go and stand between two of the characters.
Ask the other pupils to try to describe the space between the characters.
The pupils might suggest various alternatives - "The space of...
(unhappiness, ignorance, guilt)". Ask them to find evidence from the text to support their ideas.
The same techniques can be used to explore the conversation that might take place when Tony gets home, in order to explore the differences.
The use of song lyrics or children's picture books can provide an effective structure for autobiographical writing. The pupils choose their own song or story which prompts memories. They are asked to "interrupt" the song lyrics or a short children's story with their own writing, as if the text has been paused, and in the listener's head personal thoughts, events, images etc appear. This process continues throughout the lyricsstory. The pupil may extract a word or phrase from the songstory to begin their pieces of writing throughout, for example first and second line of songstory, pupil's writing, third and fourth line, pupil's writing.
About the author
Tony Bradman is a popular author who has written many books and edited many anthologies for children of all ages. He won the Nottingham Children's Book Award 2005 for Final Cut, published by Egmont, and among his more recent publications are The Orchard Book of Swords, Sorcerers and Superheroes and Skin Deep, an anthology of short stories about racism (Puffin). Tony lives with his wife in south London and has three grown-up children and two grandchildren.