Greenling / After Reading / /

Mythology Connections

Making connections with other stories.

Lesson length: 1 session

Lesson from Greenling teaching sequence

Required reading: Whole book

Text potential

  • Genre: Mythology
  • Background knowledge: Mythology


  • Comprehension: Making Connections


Greenling is a story which invites comparison with other works of literature, culture and art. The children may not be familiar with these connections. In this sequence, some of the cultural and literary allusions are outlined, and the children are then invited to consider what relevance they may have to the story. These references are introduced to develop an awareness of different cultural connections. The extent to which the children want to assimilate them into their interpretations should be left as a matter of personal choice.


  • A copy of The Odyssey by Geraldine McCaughrean (optional)
  • The Lotus Eaters story (see link below).
  • Mythology Connections slideshow.


Start by giving an overview of The Odyssey and then tell the story of the lotus-eaters (one of the challenges that Odysseus has to overcome on his voyage back from Troy to Ithaca).

After reading, ask the children to work in pairs to see if they can see any connections between the story of the Lotus Eaters and Greenling.

Share ideas. (They may notice that the strange flower that grows in the culvert where Greenling is found resembles a lotus flower. They may notice that the travellers on the train seem to forget where they are going ‘They ate up the fruit of the Greenling, fruit much too good to be true.’ (p26)


  • Is it possible to have too much of a good thing? Relate the story to children’s own experiences. Can you have too much of your favourite food? Too much free time? Too much time playing video games? 
  • What are the potential consequences of having too much of a good thing?
  • Can you enjoy leisure without experiencing work? 
  • Can you feel happy all the time?
  • How do you know what happiness feels like if you have never felt sad?

Share the Mythology Connections slideshow, which shows the prevalence of the lotus flower in different mythologies.

  • Do you know any other stories that have travelled across cultures? (Depending on the experience of the class, some may know that religious stories from Islamic, Judaism and Christian traditions have shared stories. The translation of traditional fairy tales into Disney film could also be considered travelling across different cultures.)

Final reflection

  • Do you think reading the story of the Lotus Eaters makes us think about the Greenling story in a different way?

Make the point that writers and artists often reference other stories in their work. Sometimes they do this intentionally. At other times it is unintentional and they may not realise their influences until later.

When Levi Pinfold was asked about the idea for the story in Young Writers magazine he wrote:

​A couple of things came together at once. I was renting a house with a backyard in at the time, and decided to grow some tomatoes from seed, just out of interest. If I were to make them grow and deliver fruit I had to take care of them as if they were babies, and it got me thinking about how people relate to plants. Whilst I was becoming sentimental about nurturing my seed trays, my unattended back yard was becoming a monstrous jungle of grass and weeds. I soon burnt out an electric mower, a strimmer and even managed to break an old-fashioned reel mower trying to tame the 6 metre square patch! It’s powerful stuff when left to its own devices and can overwhelm you very quickly. These two events started me thinking of a powerful green baby, who gets picked and brought into a home, despite not being fully understood.

There are lots of similar stories throughout history, like the infant Bacchus in Ovid or some of the themes in the song ‘John Barleycorn Must Die’. I tried to let go and work from my subconscious when planning the book, but working in this manner means you find things you have enjoyed in the past creeping in to the story. I thought I’d give a nod to these sources with names and imagery, but hopefully the story is different enough that it can be entertaining in it’s own right.


Key vocabulary

Odyssey, lotus, mythology

Subject-specific and technical vocabulary 
Academic process words 
Advanced vocabulary 
Morphological investigation 
Etymological investigation 


The Lotus Eaters

A version of The Lotus Eaters story from the Odyssey.

Visit resource

Mythology Connections slideshow.

Making connections


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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