The Dark Lord’s Story
Exploring the concept of the unreliable narrator
Lesson length: 1 session
Lesson from A Story Like the Wind series
- Narrative features: Narration: first person
- Narrative features: Narration: third person
- Writing opportunities: Unreliable narrator
- Thinking Maps
This lesson provides an opportunity for the children to consider the different effects created by writing in the third or the first person and in particular, to consider whether all narrators can be trusted.
- A copy of The Story of the Three Little Pigs by Joseph Jacobs.
- A copy of The True Story of The 3 Little Pigs by Jon Scieszka.
- Copies of A Story Like the Wind, at least one between two..
Ask the children to recall the story of The Three Little Pigs, or read Joseph Jacobs version from Collected English Fairy Tales (1890). Then read Jon Scieszka’s The True Story of the 3 Little Pigs.
Use a Double Bubble Map (David Hyerle, 2011) to make a comparison between the two versions.
- Can you suggest reasons there are discrepancies in the two versions?
Clarify the differences between first and third-person narration, if needed. Make the point that writers make choices about whether to write in the third or first person.
- What are the benefits and limitations of writing in the first person?
Introduce the term ‘unreliable narrator’ – a first-person narrator who distorts the truth. This can be deliberate or unconscious
- Is B B Wolf an unreliable narrator?
- Why would he want to distort the truth?
Ask the children to imagine that the Dark Lord has written his version of the stallion race. How might his story be different from the third-person narration if he was writing to justify his behaviour?
Challenge the children to rewrite an eyewitness account of the race as if the Dark Lord is justifying his actions to his people.
- How can we detect if the narrator is unreliable?