Tag Archives: Comparative Study

‘A Monster Calls’ & ‘Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close’

24 Nov

I think A Monster Calls and Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close would make an interesting textual pairing.  Why?  Both texts explore the process of grieving and a young boy’s experiences as they have to navigate the world in the face of trauma.

This comparison would enable exploration of similar ideas (grieving, loss, truth) across the texts, while also inviting engagement with narrative voice and the ways in which the perspectives of children are created and communicated.



‘A Long Way Gone’ and ‘Freedom Writers’

16 Nov

For a while now I have been posting text pairings on my blog.  I tend to update it once I read or watch something new, hoping that one day I can draw from the list and teach something really exciting, engaging and thought-provoking.

I wanted to take some time out from adding to the list, instead explaining why I think particular texts would work well together.  Some of these options I have tried in my own classroom, others I aspire to teach one day but have not yet had to right class with which to test them.  I hope by explaining my thought process other teachers may have the right class with which to take the leap and might be inspired to try something new.

A Long Way Gone  is the autobiography of Ishmael Beah, a former child soldier from Sierra Leone.  This book explores mature content but in a reasonably accessible way, making it the perfect choice for a mainstream Year 10 class.

Freedom Writers is a film that explores the power of relationships both within and outside of gang culture.  It highlights the role of education and strong relations to change the trajectory of lives.  Again, the content is mature but the presentation is accessible, making it a good film to pair with A Long Way Gone.

You could engage with both the texts around the idea of relationships and the forces that inspire/compel loyalty.  It would interesting to make comparisons between the experiences of child soldiers and those of gang members.  This particular comparison also enables meaningful engagement with notions of innocence and responsibility as well as charting courses towards redemption in various forms.

Exciting new pairings!

23 Oct

My list of suggested textual pairings now includes over 140 options!

I have tried to incorporate texts that schools may have already, pairing them with new options to renew student and teacher interest.

I have also incorporated some texts that may not be classroom staples but, in my view, should be!

If you have any additional suggestions, or have tried some of these options in your classroom, please let me know!


21 Sep

I have recently re-read A Monster Calls and, as a result, I can’t get thoughts of monsters out my head!  In particular, I cannot stop thinking about a unit about personal, social and political monsters in which A Monster Calls keeps company with FrankensteinThe Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde and maybe even ‘Monsters‘ by Poetri.

As suggested by the unit title, the unit would examine monsters in various manifestations, viewing them as vehicles for personal, social and political commentary.

‘New Boy’

2 Sep

I have just finished reading Tracy Chevalier’s novel New Boy, it is an appropriation of Othello and part of the Hogarth Shakespeare series that also includes Margaret Atwood’s Hag-Seed.

Like OthelloNew Boy explores jealousy, manipulation and choices that cannot be unmade.  Interestingly, New Boy sets the action in a school playground, perhaps alluding to the notion that the manipulation engineered by Ian (the Iago character) is just another childish game.  This setting also allows the easy manipulation of Oesi (the Othello character) to seem more plausible; it makes more sense to me that a child, rather than an adult soldier, may not have the resilience or savvy to withstand the tactics of a manipulator.

Another interesting choice made by the author is the title.  Unlike Shakespeare who named his text directly after his protagonist, Chevalier has chosen to title hers New Boy,  I think this raises some interesting questions:  Does using the protagonist’s name honour  the protagonist or publicly call out his conduct? Is referencing a status rather than a name a statement of universal applicability or does it buy in to the very prejudice that is described in the text?  Do these choices honour victims or name perpetrators?  Why does the manipulator not have his name or his title plastered across the front of the cover?

I think New Boy could be a really interesting text to teach alongside Othello in Year 11 Advanced, perhaps functioning as a precursor to an HSC study of The Tempest and Hag-Seed.


‘Viceroy’s House’

11 Jun

I recently watched Viceroy’s House, a film about the transition of British India to independence.  The film was beautifully made, utilising the difficulties of a love between a Hindu (Jeet Kumar) and Muslim (Aalia Noor) to represent the divisions in a nation that will need to be partitioned in order to realise dreams of independence.

I think the film could be an interesting partner for a study of Shakespeare’s Romeo & Juliet.  This pairing would be a particularly useful way of exploring how the relationship between protagonists illuminates broader social tensions.

It would also be a good related text for Year 11 AOS Journeys or Change.  In both instances, students would be able to analyse the experiences of characters and then connect this to journeys or change on a national scale.


28 May

I recently read Margaret Atwood’s Hag-Seed.

Initially, I wasn’t hugely impressed as it seemed like an unimaginative adaptation of The Tempest; like Prospero, the protagonist (Felix) was usurped and experienced a period of exile, albeit from directing plays.

However, as I continued to read I found myself getting sucked in.  Particularly interesting was Atwood’s emphasis on notions of imprisonment; Prospero is imprisoned on the island, Caliban is imprisoned by Prospero and the protagonist of Hag-Seed is imprisoned by the past.  I do think this notion was laboured a tad by setting Felix’s path as directing plays for prisoners.

I was also intrigued by Atwood’s representation of Miranda (Prospero’s daughter in the play, and Felix’s daughter in the book).  Unlike in the play, where Miranda is very much alive, in the novel she begins as a memory and them begins to assume ghostly form.  This was reasonably effective as a metaphor for representing the haunting spectre of the past, and the way in which the past informs present action.

Overall, I am not sure I loved Hag-Seed as a novel.  However, as a companion to The Tempest (as it will be in the new HSC) it does, definitely, have merit.

Picturing comparisons

7 Dec

Students often find it difficult to make meaningful connections between texts.  Indeed, this is the case for my senior classes.  To assist them I want to print a series of stills from the film they have been studying.  Then, I want students to trawl through their notes and find quotes from their novel which could provide interesting points of comparison.  Students can link through shared ideas, catalysts, consequences, similarities in terms of characters and the like.


90 second thesis

4 Aug

I am on a mission to find creative ways of helping my students to develop requisite skills and revise knowledge.  It is now halfway through the year and I think it is time to up my game in terms of the learning activities that I offer my students.

One activity that I am keen to try is a game entitled ’90 second thesis’.  Here, students listen to 90s music while moving around the room.  When the music stops, students grab a pen, pad of paper and partner and work together to write a thesis statement that responds to an essay question.  In keeping with the 90s theme, students have only 90 seconds to write their thesis statements.  After the 90 seconds have expired, students share their thesis statements with the class.

I think this activity would be valuable as it would help build students’ confidence regarding (a) the composition of thesis statements and (b) to compose said thesis statements quickly, as would be required under exam conditions.

Pairs of texts

31 Mar

I have spent a lot of time recently thinking about interesting textual pairings for study as part of a comparative unit.  Many of my ideas are not suitable for my school context or the ability levels of my classes.  However, I do think that, in the right contexts and with the right classes, all could form the basis of interesting and engaging units.

  1. A Lesson Before Dying (novel) & To Kill a Mockingbird (film)
  2. A Long Way Gone (memoir) & Freedom Writers (film)
  3. A Long Way Gone (memoir) & Girl At War (novel)
  4. A Long Way Gone (memoir) & Hotel Rwanda (film)
  5. A Long Way Gone (memoir) & Schindler’s List (film)
  6. A Long Way Gone (memoir) & Poetry of Siegfried Sassoon (poetry)
  7. A Long Way Gone (memoir) & Poetry of Wilfred Owen (poetry)
  8. Americanah (novel) & selected episodes of Black-ish (television series)
  9. A Monster Calls (novel) & Boy (film)
  10. A Monster Calls (novel) & Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close (film)
  11. A Monster Calls (novel/film) & Frankenstein (novel)
  12. And Then There Were None (novel) & Selected episodes of Trapped (television series)
  13. Animal Farm (novel) & Selection of episodes of House of Cards (television series)
  14. Anzac Girls (television series) & Poetry of Siegfried Sassoon (poetry)
  15. Bad Feminist (collection of essays) & For Colored Girls (film)
  16. Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress (novel) & Freedom Writers (film)
  17. Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress (novel) & The Dreamer (novel)
  18. Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress (novel) & The Kite Runner (film or graphic novel)
  19. Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress (novel) & Wadjda (film)
  20. Becoming Kirrali Lewis (novel) & Boy (film)
  21. Becoming Kirrali Lewis (novel) & The Kite Runner (graphic novel)
  22. Boy, Snow, Bird (novel) & Americanah (novel)
  23. Boy, Snow, Bird (novel) & Selected short stories of Chinua Achebe (short stories)
  24. Boy, Snow, Bird (novel) & Desdemona (play)
  25. Boy, Snow, Bird (novel) & God Help the Child (novel)
  26. Boy, Snow, Bird (novel) & Kissing the Witch (novel)
  27. Brave New World (novel) & The Crucible (play)
  28. Brave New World (novel) & Never Let Me Go (film)
  29. Brave New World (novel) & V for Vendetta (film)
  30. Briar Rose (novel) & Grave of the Fireflies (film)
  31. Briar Rose (novel) & Lion (film)
  32. Briar Rose (novel) & Night (autobiography)
  33. Briar Rose (novel) & Schindler’s List (film)
  34. Deadline (novel) & Dead Poets Society (film)
  35. Deadline (novel) & The Fault In Our Stars (film)
  36. Deadline (novel) & The Secret Life of Walter Mitty (film)
  37. Deadly, Unna? (novel) & A United Kingdom (film)
  38. Deadly, Unna? (novel) & Hairspray (film)
  39. Deadly, Unna? (novel) & Invictus (film)
  40. Deadly, Unna? (novel) & Remember the Titans (films)
  41. Deadly, Unna? (novel) & Selected episodes of Redfern Now (television series)
  42. El Deafo (graphic novel) & The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time (novel)
  43. Etiquette and Espionage (novel) & Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone (film)
  44. Exit West (novel) & Romeo and Juliet (play)
  45. Exit West (novel) & The poetry of Selina Nwulu (poetry)
  46. Exit West (novel) & The poetry of Warsan Shire (poetry)
  47. Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close (novel) & After the Storm (film)
  48. Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close (novel) & 11’09’01 (collection of short films)
  49. Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close (novel) & Lion (film)
  50. Face (novel) & The Intouchables (film)
  51. Fahrenheit 451 (novel) & Persepolis (graphic novel or film)
  52. Fahrenheit 451 (novel) & V For Vendetta (film)
  53. For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide / When the Rainbow is Enuf (choreopoem) & Mustang (film)
  54. Frankenstein (novel) & Boy, Snow, Bird (novel)
  55. Frankenstein (novel) & Frankenweenie (film)
  56. Frankenstein (novel) & The Iron Giant (film)
  57. Frankenstein (novel) & Metropolis (film)
  58. Frankenstein (novel) & Never Let Me Go (film)
  59. Frankenstein (novel) & The Rocky Horror Picture Show (film)
  60. Frankenstein (novel) & The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde (novel)
  61. Girl Rising (film) & Poetry of Maya Angelou (poetry)
  62. Hamlet (play) & A Monster Calls (novel/film)
  63. Hamlet (play) & Nutshell (novel)
  64. Hamlet (play) & The Lion King (film)
  65. Hiroshima (novel) & Grave of the Fireflies (film)
  66. King Henry IV, Part I (play) & Selected episodes of House of Cards (television show)
  67. King Henry IV, Part I (play) & Selected episodes of Scandal (television show)
  68. King Richard II (play) & Selected episodes of House of Cards (television show)
  69. Life of Pi (novel) & Castaway (film)
  70. Lord of the Flies (novel) & Where the Wild Things Are (film)
  71. Lord of the Flies (novel) & The Hunger Games (film)
  72. Macbeth (play) & Selected episodes of Designated Survivor (television series)
  73. Macbeth (play) & The Dressmaker (film)
  74. Macbeth (play) & The Gods of Wheat Street (television series)
  75. Macbeth (play) & Selected episodes of House of Cards (television series)
  76. Macbeth (play) & Selected episodes of Scandal (television series)
  77. Maus (graphic novel) & A Long Way Gone (memoir)
  78. Maus (graphic novel) & Night (autobiography)
  79. Maus (graphic novel) & Schindler’s List (film)
  80. March (novel) & Little Wome(novel)
  81. Me and Earl and the Dying Girl (novel) & The Fault in Our Stars (film)
  82. Night (autobiography) & A Long Way Gone (memoir)
  83. Night (autobiography) & Girl At War (novel)
  84. Night (autobiography) & Over A Thousand Hills I Walk With You (biography)
  85. Night (autobiography) & Rabbit-Proof Fence (film)
  86. Night (autobiography) & Schindler’s List (film)
  87. Night (autobiography) & The Seven Stages of Grieving (play)
  88. Nona and Me (novel) & Looking for Alibrandi (film)
  89. Nona and Me (novel) & September (film)
  90. Of Mice and Men (novel) & Hunt for the Wilderpeople (film)
  91. Othello (play) & Desdemona (play)
  92. Othello (play) & Gone Girl (film)
  93. Othello (play) & New Boy (novel)
  94. Othello (play) & V For Vendetta (film)
  95. Over a Thousand Hills I Walk With You (biography) & Girl At War (novel)
  96. Over A Thousand Hills I Walk With You (biography) & Hotel Rwanda (film)
  97. Over A Thousand Hills I Walk With You (biography) & Lion (film)
  98. Over A Thousand Hills I Walk With You (biography) & Maus (graphic novel)
  99. Over A Thousand Hills I Walk With You (biography) & Night (autobiography)
  100. Over A Thousand Hills I Walk With You (biography) & Schindler’s List (film)
  101. Pride & Prejudice (novel) & Bride and Prejudice (film)
  102. Pride & Prejudice (novel) & Bridget Jones’s Diary (film)
  103. Pride & Prejudice (novel) & Mustang (film)
  104. Pride & Prejudice (novel) & The Wedding Plan (film)
  105. Refugee Boy (novel) & Freedom Writers (film)
  106. Refugee Boy (novel) & The African Doctor (film)
  107. Refugee Boy (novel) & The Arrival (picture book)
  108. Romeo & Juliet (play) & Alex and Eve (film)
  109. Romeo & Juliet (play) & A United Kingdom (film)
  110. Romeo & Juliet (play) & Freedom Writers (film)
  111. Romeo & Juliet (play) & Hairspray (film)
  112. Romeo & Juliet (play) & Meet the Patels (film)
  113. Romeo & Juliet (play) & Mustang (film)
  114. Romeo & Juliet (play) & My Big Fat Greek Wedding (film)
  115. Romeo & Juliet (play) & Tanna (film)
  116. Romeo & Juliet (play) & The Fault in Our Stars (film or novel)
  117. Romeo & Juliet (play) & Titanic (film)
  118. Romeo & Juliet (play) & Viceroy’s House (film)
  119. Romeo & Juliet (play) & West Side Story (film)
  120. Safana and Aunt Sarrinah (play) & Selected episodes of Redfern Now (television show)
  121. Safana and Aunt Sarrinah (play) & The Green Bicycle (novel)
  122. Safana and Aunt Sarrinah (play) & The Kite Runner (novel or graphic novel)
  123. Safana and Aunt Sarrinah (play) & Wadjda (film)
  124. Safana and Aunt Sarrinah (play) & Poetry of Warsan Shire (poetry)
  125. Scattered Lives (play) & Americannah (novel)
  126. Scattered Lives (play) & Freedom Writers (film)
  127. Scattered Lives (play) & Looking for Alibrandi (novel)
  128. Scattered Lives (play) & Poetry of Peter Skrzynecki (poetry)
  129. Scattered Lives (play) & Poetry of Selina Nwulu (poetry)
  130. Scattered Lives (play) & Poetry of Warsan Shire (poetry)
  131. Schindler’s Ark (novel) & Hotel Rwanda (film)
  132. Speak (novel) & For Colored Girls (film)
  133. Speak (novel) & The Scarlet Letter (novel)
  134. Stargirl (novel) & Wadjda (film)
  135. Station Eleven (novel) & A Midsummer Night’s Dream (play)
  136. Station Eleven (novel) & Hag-Seed (novel)
  137. Station Eleven (novel) & Never Let Me Go (novel or film)
  138. Station Eleven (novel) & The Tempest (play)
  139. Stolen (play) & Rabbit-Proof Fence (film)
  140. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian (novel) & Hunt for the Wilderpeople (film)
  141. The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind (memoir) & Queen of Katwe (film)
  142. The Color Purple (novel) & For Colored Girls (film)
  143. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time (novel) & Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close (film)
  144. The Dreamer (novel) & Billy Elliot (film)
  145. The Drover’s Wife (play) & Selected episodes of Redfern Now (television series).
  146. The First Third (novel) & Boy (film)
  147. The Fault in Our Stars (novel) & Me and Earl and the Dying Girl (film)
  148. The Handmaid’s Tale (novel/television series) & Never Let me Go (novel/film)
  149. The Help (novel) & A United Kingdom (film)
  150. The Help (novel) & Remember the Titans (film)
  151. The Help (novel) & The Blindside (film)
  152. The Outsiders (novel) & Hunt for the Wilderpeople (film)
  153. The Outsiders (novel) & Freedom Writers (film)
  154. The Outsiders (novel) & Yolngu Boy (film)
  155. The Rabbits (picture book) & Deadly, Unna? (novel)
  156. The Rabbits (picture book) & Poetry of Oodgeroo Noonuccal (poetry)
  157. The Rabbits (picture book) & Rabbit-Proof Fence (film)
  158. The Real Inspector Hound (play) & Selected episodes of Trapped (television series)
  159. The Real Inspector Hound (play) & And Then There Were None (novel)
  160. The Scarlet Letter (novel) & Easy A (film)
  161. The Skull Beneath the Skin (novel) & The Real Inspector Hound (play)
  162. The Skull Beneath the Skin (novel) & Selected episodes of Trapped (television series)
  163. The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde (novel) & The Drover’s Wife (play)
  164. The Street Sweeper by Elliot Perlman (novel) & Freedom Writers (film)
  165. The Story of Edgar Sawtelle (novel) & Hamlet (play or film)
  166. The Kite Runner (novel) & Big Fish (film)
  167. The Kite Runner (novel) & Boy (film)
  168. The Queue (novel) & Animal Farm (novel)
  169. The Queue (novel) & Brave New World (novel)
  170. The Queue (novel) & Fahrenheit 451 (novel/film)
  171. The Queue (novel) & Nineteen Eighty-Four (novel)
  172. The Queue (novel) & Persepolis (film/graphic novel)
  173. To Kill a Mockingbird (novel) & A United Kingdom (film)
  174. To Kill a Mockingbird (novel) & Hairspray (film)
  175. To Kill a Mockingbird (novel) & Poetry of Langston Hughes (poetry)
  176. To Kill a Mockingbird (novel) & Remember the Titans (film)
  177. To Kill a Mockingbird (novel) & Selected episodes of Redfern Now (television series)
  178. To Kill a Mockingbird (novel) & The Blindside (film)
  179. To Kill a Mockingbird (novel) & The Help (film)
  180. To This Day (graphic novel) & Wonder (novel)
  181. To This Day (graphic novel) & Face (novel)
  182. Vernon God Little (novel) & Elephant (film)
  183. Vinegar Girl (novel) & The Taming of the Shrew (play)
  184. Vinegar Girl (novel) & 10 Things I Hate About You (film)
  185. Voices from Chernobyl (non-fiction) & Grave of the Fireflies (film)
  186. War Horse (film) & Poetry of Siegfried Sassoon (poetry)
  187. War Horse (film) & Poetry of Wilfred Owen (poetry)