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

Recommended for: Year 5.

Suggested length of study: 2 - 3 weeks.

Download the full scheme of work

Why the book was selected

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.

Curriculum connections

  • Science
    • living things and their habitats

About the author

Levis Pinfold’s debut picturebook The Django, won a Book Trust Early Years Award and was described by author-illustrator Michael Foreman as a ‘virtuoso of real drawing’ He is also the creator of Black Dog, winner of the prestigious Kate Greenaway. Pinfold has illustrated books for other writers, notably David Almond’s The Dam and A F Harrold’s The Song from Somewhere Else.

A note about lessons

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.

Text potential

Lessons for this book

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.

Pages 1-8

Stranger Becomings

Reading and discussing first responses to text and image.

Pages 1-18

‘We’ve been living in his all along!’

Using text marking to support close 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.

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.


Black Dog

Published by Templar Publishing. Authored by Levi Pinfold.

Another book by Levi Pinfold. Only Small, the youngest of the Hopes, has the courage to face the Black Dog that appears outside the family’s home. When it chases her through the forest she shows no fear, so it grows smaller and smaller. 

The Dam

Published by Walker Books Ltd. Authored by David Almond. Illustrated by Levi Pinfold.

When a great dam was built by the Kielder Water in Northumberland, the valley below slowly filled with water. But just before this, when the villagers had been moved out, two musicians went back to the abandoned valley. They tore down the boards over the houses, stepped inside and started to play – for this would be the last time that music would be heard in this place.

The Giving Tree

Published by Penguin Books Ltd. Authored by Shel Silverstein.

A book with an environmental message

Once there was a little tree … and she loved a little boy. So begins the classic bestseller, beautifully written and illustrated by the gifted and versatile Shel Silverstein.Every day the boy would come to the tree to eat her apples, swing from her branches, or slide down her trunk … and the tree was happy. But as the boy grew older he began to want more from the tree, and the tree gave and gave and gave.

The Rabbits

Published by Hachette Australia. Authored by Shaun Tan.

A hard hitting fable about settlers treatment of indigineous people an species.

The rabbits came many grandparents ago. They built houses, made roads, had children. They cut down trees.

My Place

Published by Walker Books Australia. Authored by Nadia Wheatley. Illustrated by Donna Rawlins.

Between 1788 and 1988, the little plot of Aboriginal land near Sydney has changed almost beyond recognition. As History shapes the new country of Australia – arrival of convict ships from England, the forging of political parties, world war, immigration, industrialization, centenary celebrations – so life on the piece of land changes from generation to generation. Families of every nationality, every walk of life, come and go, experiencing troubles and joys, births, deaths, prejudice, solidarity, wealth, poverty. But common to all is the sense of belonging to my place.


Published by Walker Books Ltd. Authored by Jeannie Baker. Illustrated by Jeannie Baker.

A story about regeneration. Observed through the window of a house, a city street gradually becomes a place to call home as the inhabitants begin to rescue their street by planting grass and trees in the empty spaces. Year by year, everything begins to blossom…


Published by Flying Eye Books. Authored by Emily Hughes.

You cannot tame something so happily wild.” In this beautiful picture book by Hawaiian artist Emily Hughes, we meet a little girl who has known nothing but nature from birth–she was taught to talk by birds, to eat by bears, and to play by foxes. She is unashamedly, irrefutably, irrepressibly wild. That is, until she is snared by some very strange animals that look oddly like her, but they don’t talk right, eat right, or play correctly.

The Book of Bees

Published by Thames & Hudson Ltd. Authored by Piotr Socha.

How do bees communicate? What does a beekeeper do? Did you know that Napoleon loved bees? Who survived being stung by 2,443 bees? This book answers all these questions and many more, tracking the history of bees from the time of the dinosaurs to their current plight.

The Bee Book

Published by Dorling Kindersley Ltd. Authored by Charlotte Milner. Illustrated by Charlotte Milner.

This dazzling celebration of bees is lavishly illustrated by the talented up-and-coming author and illustrator Charlotte Milner.

John Barleycorn Song

Versions of the traditional song have been recorded by these artists.

  • John Barleycorn Steeleye Span
  • John Barleycorn Fairport Convention
  • John Barleycorn John Renbourn