Published by Templar Publishing. Authored by Levi Pinfold. Illustrated by Levi Pinfold.

Recommended for: Year 5.

Suggested length of study: 3 - 4 weeks.

Mr Barleycorn picks a green baby growing on his land, letting loose the incredible power of nature. When melons grow in the kitchen and apples sprout out of their television, Mrs Barleycorn says the Greenling has to go. But the bounty and beauty of nature has a strange power - the power to bring a whole community together.

Why choose this book? Lessons and resources Supplementary books

Why choose this book?

Levi Pinfold’s stylised realistic and detailed paintings provide lots of opportunities for discussion. Set in Australia in the mid-twentieth century, the atmosphere evokes the frontier stories of the American midwest. Like David Grant’s iconic painting, American Gothic, Pinfold’s characters, a farmer and his wife, (the Barleycorns) are depicted against the backdrop of their outback farmhouse, inviting connections with Grant’s painting and the many meanings that have been attributed to it.

Text potential

This diagram gives an overview of the potential for teaching offered in this text. If you teach the entire sequence, you will cover these aspects. We advise teachers to produce their own text potential diagrams as this helps them to get to know the books well. Our Getting Started with Take One Book course for new schools has a module about Text Potential.


  • Action and inaction
  • Caring for the environment
  • Change and Transformation
  • Community
  • Consequences of actions
  • Humans are a part of nature not apart from nature
  • Nature and civilisation
  • Nature and technology
  • Outsiders
  • Power of nature
  • Standing against injustice
  • Sustainability
  • Wild and civilised

Writing opportunities

  • Argument
  • Point of view
  • Fact File: Wildlife fact file

Wider learning opportunities

  • Art: composition
  • Geography: Location knowledge
  • Music

Background knowledge

  • Australia
  • Environment
  • Farms
  • Land use and settlement
  • Mythology

Visual language

  • Body Language: (gesture, posture, gaze and expression)
  • Characterisation
  • Colour, line, shape, position

Narrative features

  • Character emotions
  • Narration: point of view
  • Setting

Inference opportunities

  • Character Emotions
  • Character Inference
  • Character Motivation
  • Character Thoughts
  • Elaborative inference
  • Inductive Inference


  • Fable
  • Mythology
  • Picturebook

Language features

  • Idiom


  • Morphology: -ling suffix
  • Neologisms
  • Positive and negative connotations
  • Semantic Field: bees
  • Semantic Field: wasteland
  • Tier 2 vocabulary

Literary features

  • Metaphor and simile
  • Moral
  • Figurative Language: personification


Making connections is an important part of children’s reading and developing comprehension. We can help children build their knowledge by making explicit links throughout the year and across years. As well as making connections with other books they have read, we signpost curriculum connections. Sometimes, we will look for a book that connects with the children’s current studies in history, geography or science, but we can also spiral their learning by either foregrounding a topic that we know they will study later or revisiting a topic that they have already studied.

Connections within Take One Book

The theme of human connection with nature is a thread that runs across years 1 – 6. In Year 1, Emily Hughes Wild raises questions about whether nature can or should be tamed, and Mini Grey’s The Last Wolf considers the problems that arise for wildlife when human needs are privileged above all others. In Year 2, Victoria Turnbull’s Pandora features a young fox who lives among the broken things that have been discarded by society and nurtures an ailing bird back to good health. In Year 4, Linda Newbery’s Lob focuses on the healing power of nature. when Lucy’s Grandpa Will dies, Lucy longs to see, Lob, the Green Man who lives in Grandpa’s garden. Her strong belief eventually pays its reward. In Year 5, Nicola Davies’s The Promise would pair well with Greenling, with its empowering message that every individual can make a difference. As would the challenge to the dystopian world in Marc Craste and Helen Ward’s Varmints. And in Year 6 Dave Eggers. Captain Nemo , a thrilling environmental adventure, provides a contemporary take on Jules Verne’s 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea

Links to National Curriculum in England

Pupils should be taught to:

  • maintain positive attitudes to reading and understanding of what they read by:
  • continuing to read and discuss an increasingly wide range of fiction, poetry, plays, non-fiction and reference books or textbooks
  • reading books that are structured in different ways and reading for a range of purposes
  • increasing their familiarity with a wide range of books, including myths, legends and traditional stories, modern fiction, fiction from our literary heritage, and books from other cultures and traditions
  • recommending books that they have read to their peers, giving reasons for their choices
  • identifying and discussing themes and conventions in and across a wide range of writing
  • making comparisons within and across books

Understand what they read by:

  • checking that the book makes sense to them, discussing their understanding and exploring the meaning of words in context
  • asking questions to improve their understanding
  • drawing inferences such as inferring characters’ feelings, thoughts and motives from their actions, and justifying inferences with evidence
  • predicting what might happen from details stated and implied
  • summarising the main ideas drawn from more than one paragraph, identifying key details that support the main ideas
  • identifying how language, structure and presentation contribute to meaning
  • discuss and evaluate how authors use language, including figurative language, considering the impact on the reader
  • participate in discussions about books that are read to them and those they can read for themselves, building on their own and others’ ideas and challenging views courteously
  • explain and discuss their understanding of what they have read, including through formal presentations and debates, maintaining a focus on the topic and using notes where necessary
  • provide reasoned justifications for their views.

Curriculum connections

  • Art
  • Geography
    • human features: farms
    • land use and settlement
    • wet and arid places of the world
  • Science
    • living things and their habitats

Lessons for this book

Our lessons are organised as meaningful chunks of learning. Most of them will fit a standard 45 minute to 60 minute session. However, some of them are shorter and others will run for a series of linked sessions. It is anticipated that you will not teach all the lessons. Select those that suit the needs of your class and add them to your personalised plans.

Download the full scheme of work

Before Reading


Picture Reveal (Greenling)

Revealing an image from the book to pique curiosity and encourage exploration of initial ideas.


Land Settlement and Use

This lesson makes connections with children's prior knowledge and curriculum coverage to orientate them to the text.

During Reading

First Encounters

What’s in a Title?

Considering the meaning of an unfamiliar title.

Required reading: Front cover

Taking Greenling Home

An introduction to the text, first responses and establishing literal understanding.

Required reading: Pages 1-8

Greenling’s Arrival

Writing from a point of view.

Stranger Becomings

Reading and discussing first responses to text and image.

Required reading: Pages 1-18

‘We’ve been living in his all along!’

Using text marking to support close reading.

Required reading: Pages 19-22

‘What will be growing on Barleycorn land?’

Interrogating the text and asking questions.

Required reading: Whole book

Digging Deeper

The Barleycorns – differing viewpoints

Using role-play to explore the point of view of different characters.

Required reading: Pages 1-18

Positive and Negative Language

Investigating positive and negative descriptions of Greenling and relating this to the wider world context.

Required reading: Whole book

Wild – Semantic Mapping

Developing depth of understanding of a high concept word.

Required reading: Whole book

The Language of Bees

Identifying references to bees and considering the word choice and effect.

Required reading: Pages 15-27

Everything’s Gone to Seed

Learning plant idioms and finding examples in the book

Required reading: Whole book

Hearts, Minds and Voices

Thinking about the reasons for character behaviour using the hearts, minds and voices strategy.

Required reading: 21-22

After Reading

Review and Reflect


Finding the message.

Required reading: Whole book

Is technology the source or the solution for environmental problems?

Probing one of the key themes and posing a text to world question. for debate.

Required reading: Whole book

Mythology Connections

Making connections with other stories.

Required reading: Whole book

Where on Earth?

Establishing the setting for the story and developing background knowledge about land settlement, farming methods and land erosion

Save Australia’s Wildlife: Fact Files

Creating a class book about Australian wildlife.

John Barleycorn – solve the mystery

Reading the lyrics of the Song John Barleycorn and using ‘detective skills to work out the meaning of the song.

Supplementary Books

These books are recommended for wider reading and further research to support this teaching sequence. A supplementary pack is available from our bookselling partner, Best Books for Schools. Books can also be purchased individually.

Black Dog

Author: Levi Pinfold.

The Dam

Author: David Almond. Illustrator: Levi Pinfold.

The Giving Tree

Author: Shel Silverstein.

The Rabbits

Author: Shaun Tan.

My Place

Author: Nadia Wheatley. Illustrator: Donna Rawlins.


Author: Jeannie Baker. Illustrator: Jeannie Baker.


Author: Emily Hughes.

The Book of Bees

Author: Piotr Socha.

The Bee Book

Author: Charlotte Milner. Illustrator: Charlotte Milner.

Honey Bee

Author: Candace Fleming. Illustrator: Eric Rohmann.

Paradise Sands a Story of Enchantment

Author: Levi Pinfold.

The Song from Somewhere Else

Author: A F Harrold. Illustrator: Levi Pinfold.