A Story Like the Wind / During Reading / /

‘In a small boat, with a small hope…’

Analysis of literary language use, specifically the use of a refrain which punctuates the story.

Lesson length: 1 session

Lesson from A Story Like the Wind series

Required reading: Whole book

Text potential

  • Literary features: Patterned Language: refrain

Strategies used

  • Close Reading


This short lesson is best taught after reading the entire book so that the use of a refrain can be considered in relation to the structure of the novel.


  • Copies of A Story Like the Wind, at least one between two.


Write the following words on the whiteboard:

In a small boat

With a small hope

In a rising wind

On a rising sea.

Share thoughts about how these words make you feel.

  • Does the repetition add to this feeling? For instance, would it be as effective if Gill Lewis had written ‘In a small boat with a tiny hope’, or ‘In a small boat with a minute hope’?

Now ask the children to scan the story to see if they can find the words. You may want to direct their attention to these pages p13, p25, p77.

Discuss the context where the words are used  (moments of high emotion).

Introduce or revise the term refrain (a short, simple part of a song or poem which is repeated).

  • Why do you think Gill Lewis repeats these words? Answers might suggest that they add a poetic quality, it makes the text more memorable, it emphasises the desperation, it heightens the experience, or it punctuates the story.

Look at the way these words are set out on the page: 

  • How do they stand out from the main narrative?
  • What do you think they are laid out like this?

Final reflection

  • Why do you think Gill Lewis has chosen these as the final words for her story?
  • How did you respond to the way A Story Like the Wind was written?
  • Is it similar or different from other stories that you have read?

Key vocabulary



Nikki Gamble

Nikki Gamble
Director, Just Imagine
Nikki has worked extensively in schools across the UK and internationally. She is the author of Exploring Children’s Literature (4th edit) (2019) and co-author of Guiding Readers (2016) which was awarded the UKLA Academic Book of the Year Award 2017. Nikki is KS2 reading advisor and series consultant for Oxford University Press and content creator for the Oxford School Improvement and Oxford Owl websites. Nikki is Associate Consultant at the University of London, Institute of Education and Honorary Fellow at the University of Winchester

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