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

Recommended for: Year 5.

Suggested length of study: 2 - 3 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

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.

Curriculum connections

  • 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


What’s in a Title?

Considering the meaning of an unfamiliar title.

Required reading: Front cover

Where on Earth?

Establishing the context and setting for the story.

During Reading

First Encounters

Taking Greenling Home

An introduction to the text.

Required reading: Pages 1-8

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 19-21

‘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: Whole book

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

After Reading

Review and Reflect


Finding the message.

Required reading: Whole book

Do We Need Technology?

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

Required reading: Whole book

Mythology Connections

Making connections with other stories.

Required reading: Whole book

Writing Opportunities

Save Australia’s Wildlife: Fact Files

Creating a class book about Australian wildlife.

Greenling’s Arrival

Writing from a point of view.

Wider Learning Opportunities

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.