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Three billy goats and a troll;Project literacy

(Photograph) - Is it about three clever goats, or is it the story of a hard-done by Troll?

This clever retelling of traditional tale has rich possibilities for discussion and activitives examining the point of view of the different characters - a direct requirement of the literacy framework.

We billy goats have nibbled on this land for generations.

Yes, I'm proud of this family.

If anybody messes with my brothers, they'd better watch out.

Whew... I'm finally finished building my house.

I've been working on itfor months without a wink of sleep.

I'm so tired, I think I'll lie down for a nap...

Hey, that grass over on the other side looks tasty.

Maybe I can clip-clop over that smelly old troll's bridge to get to the other side and have a nibble.

Hmmm...Little Billy Goat has wandered off again.

I'd better try to find him before he gets into mischief.

Oi, wot's that racket up there? Look here, goat, I'm trying to get some sleep!

Now please get off my roof.

Whee this is fun! Wake up, lazybones!

Ha ha, can't catch me, you ugly stinking troll!

Yo, Middle Billy Goat, I can't find Little Billy Goat anywhere.

Why don't you stop lying around munching and help me look for him?

Oi, kid! You heard me...get off, you're wrecking my roof!

If I catch you I'll bite your head off, I will! You wicked brat!

Why would you want to eat me?

Wait for my bigger brother... he's much bigger and tastier than I am and he's bound to come by soon.

That troll looks like he's hassling my brothers.

That big old bully...I'll go show him a thing or two.

Not another goat on my roof! I'm just about fed up with you goats.

Go away or I'll grind you into mincemeat!

Hey, Middle Billy Goat, check out this grass.

Never mind that smelly old troll - he's all bark and no bite.

Nobody messes with my kid brothers...


Take that, bully!

OW! What did you do that for?

I don't even like goat meatI I'm a veggie!

Nyaa, nyaa, sucker! Happy landings!

Come on you guys, let's eat!

Teacher notes

First, simply read, look at and enjoy the story. After that, discuss the characters and children will quickly see that each of the four is experiencing the story in a different way. Children could, therefore - perhaps in group work - tell each character's own story, teasing four different versions of the incident.

They will notice that the middle billy goat's story is untold in the text. This invites children to make it up for themselves. Perhaps the middle billy goat is a little embarrassed by his brothers' behaviour and is trying to hang back from pestering the troll?

It is important to allow children to come up with an interpretation of their own.

A further step is to look only at the pictures and see if they can be used to tell yet a different story. Starting with the pictures, for example, you could write a story in which the Troll is a terrible villain.

Each of these discussions can obviously lead to writing activities. Further on, all of these ambiguities and variations of interpretation can illuminate a discussion of playground or street incidents which are seen in different ways by the participants. Is there ever just one truth in such an incident?

Other traditional stories - Goldilocks for example - can be retold in a similar way. Retelling of traditional stories is also mentioned in the National Literacy Framework.

Notes by Gerald Haigh. Ted Dewan is a picture book author and illustrator. His most recent book, The Weatherbirds, was published by Penguin in May.

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