As a long-standing fan of David Wiesner’s intriguing stories and powerful illustrations, Hurricane has always been one of my favourites, yet it doesn’t seem to garner much popular attention.
This might be that the narrative, at first, might not seem as strong; when in actual fact the book is a ‘hurricane’ of potential narratives that readers can explore for themselves!
What appeals to my sensibilities as a teacher about this book is the way in which is encourages creative and imaginative play, in the outdoors! The basic premise of the book is that two brothers spend the night, tucked up in their cosy home, whilst a hurricane rages outside. The result? In the morning, they discover the largest tree in their garden has been felled by the storm and so the adventure continues.
As the brothers explore the defeated giant that is their favourite tree, their imaginations run wild. They imagine the tree becomes a spaceship, landing on a distant alien-filled planet and take to the high sees in their very own tree trunk galleon. The book is filled with a number of other adventures based in the imaginative worlds created by the boys.
This obviously provides an excellent launching point for children’s own adventures in the outdoors. You may have a wildlife area which a log circle; there may be a large piece of outdoor play equipment on the playground or you might be ‘lucky’ enough to have a recently felled tree. Send the children to your chosen location/s in pairs and give them a limited time to generate an initial idea about what this object /location could become – in the same style as the boys in the story. Share the ideas and ask pairs of children to take a small number of their peers to their given location, to share their story and roleplay the adventures.
This book would clearly lend itself to narrative story writing. To maintain the link with the outdoor learning aspect of the text, ask the children to create a story stick. The children are given or find a stick in the locality that their story starts and then create a story by moving around the area finding physical objects that would act as a prompt to an element of the story i.e. the story might have a dragon; an unusual autumn leaf my be a dragon’s scale! The children can then use other materials such as wool or twine to tie these items onto the story stick, in the order that they appear in the story. Essentially, a Pie Corbett style story map but made physical through the use of the outdoors.
Upon returning to the classroom, the children can then use the stick to practice retelling (and embellishing) the story with their partner, before creating a drawn story map and eventually moving on to write or record their fully polished tale!