Teachers Notes Raven Lucas. Book 1 Missing. Written by Christine Harris. Contents. Teachers notes written by Madeline Holmes OMNIBUS BOOKS

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1 Teachers Notes Raven Lucas Book 1: Missing Written by Christine Harris Teachers notes written by Madeline Holmes OMNIBUS BOOKS Contents Category Junior fiction Title Raven Lucas Book 1 Missing Author Christine Harris Extent 192 pp Age 10+ ISBN Introduction... 2 About the author 2 Reading the text 2 After reading the text.. 6 Teachers Notes may be reproduced for use in school activities. They may not be redistributed for commercial sale or posted to other networks.

2 Introduction Raven Lucas dad has gone missing and no one can tell her why, not even her troubled mother. With the police showing little interest, Raven takes it upon herself to track down her father dead or alive and bring her family back together. What she uncovers along the way turns her world upside down and makes her question everything she thought she knew. A mystery of suspense and intrigue, Missing is about one girl s determination to find the answers to set her world the right way up. About the author Christine Harris is one of Australia s busiest and most popular children s authors. She has written more than fifty books as well as plays, articles, poetry and short stories. Her work has been published in the UK, USA, France and New Zealand. Reading the text Part One Class discussion: first impressions and genre Have a group discussion about genre and what readers expect from mystery and suspense novels. Here are some hints. Plots of mystery novels have a tendency to be fast paced. The reader is given ample clues, both true and false, so that they too can play detective and try to solve the mystery along with the protagonist. Consider the qualities of a good sleuth: they must be nosy and brave, and determined to enforce justice when the law fails. There are other traditional recurring elements in mystery fiction too, like sidekicks and red herrings. 2

3 Research task: photography assignment Raven Lucas is doing a photography assignment for school and her theme is suburbia. Choose something you think should be documented in a series of photographs. It could be the subject of local wildlife, a sporting team you are involved in, a particular cuisine, or what a place looks at different times of the day/ week. Research your topic and write a summary, articulating why you ve chosen your subject and why it is important that a photographic collection exist. Use the camera on your phone if you have one, or your personal or school camera. Literary component: response blog Start a response blog to record your impressions of the novel. Writing down your personal responses to the story will help when it comes to class discussions and written activities. Take on the persona of a detective and keep a character record, which details relationships, motivations, characteristics and visual descriptions. In order to make sense of the clues, you could include chapter summaries and map the journey of the characters. Take note of stylistic features such as the techniques the author uses to create suspense, and how characters and setting are created. Make predictions and voice your suspicions to compare with your classmates. Part Two Class discussion: narration Have a discussion about the narration. What do you think of the narrator? This story is told in third-person narration, which means that the story is limited to what one person can see, hear and understand. Because of certain characteristics this narration suits mystery stories: it acts to simulate the readers life experiences readers are often puzzled or confused by events and we wonder why people do things and what their intentions really are. Moreover, this type of limited viewpoint, with one person s experiences and biases, can lead to misunderstanding and misdirection, which makes the mystery more compelling. What type of narration do you prefer? Do you actively choose and avoid books because of the narration? 3

4 Do you think Raven is a reliable narrator? Does the reader know more than Raven? That is, can they infer things from what she hears and sees that she doesn t necessarily understand yet? Research component: digital media Digital and social media have become a fixed part of our daily lives and are important communication tools. In response to Raven s father going missing, Raven s friends set up a Facebook page to see if they can find any information. Raven and her friends all carry smart phones. We rely on digital media daily, but ten years ago, Facebook hadn t been invented and people were only beginning to take advantage of the opportunities the Internet offered. Think about it in terms of past changes in technology: radio broadcasts took 38 years to reach an audience of 50 million people, television took 15 years, and the Internet took just four 1. Today s world is changing dramatically at a very fast pace. There are differing opinions about what technology has done for communication. Social media, like Facebook, blogs, Youtube and Twitter, are slowly breaking down privacy barriers. People reveal intimate details about their lives on easily accessible media platforms. The use of texting on mobile phones has seen a new dictionary of spelling emerge. These are only a few examples of recent change. You have been invited to take part in a debate about social media and communication: new technologies have changed communication for the better. In teams of three, argue for or against this statement. It is important to research and provide evidence to demonstrate the truth of your argument. Literacy component: characterisation Characters are what make stories memorable. As readers we are drawn to particular characters and the best types can incite powerful reactions: we love them, we loathe them, we sympathise with them. Consider the characterisation in Missing. You ll find 1 United Nations, United Nations Cyberschool bus: information and communications technology, 4

5 there are lots of contrasting and distinctive characters. Think back over what you know about each character and how you ve been given this information. Look at visual cues the dress and actions of the characters. Look at the dialogue, what they say and what others say about them. Look at how characters react to each other and what that tells you as a reader. Using the examples in Missing you find as guides, write a short scene with a set of made-up characters and focus on conveying their personalities to a reader. Part Three Class discussion: life-changing events In someone s lifetime, there will be events that are particularly significant because of their widespread and long lasting effects. The disappearance of Raven s father has serious ramifications for her family and friends. You ll find that many novels have their premise based on an upheaval in someone s life and the story will explore how that person deals with it. Have a discussion about books you ve read that fit this pattern. Why do you think authors use this technique to tell stories? Why do we read stories? What do we get out of them? What would you do if someone went missing? Does anyone know the proper procedure? In Raven s case, until the discovery of her father s car, the police seemed unwilling or unable to commit serious attention to her father s disappearance. Do you think this is an accurate representation of the situation? People disappear every day. What do you think this says about society and the world we live in? Research task When observing how other people feel about her dad s disappearance, Raven came to the conclusion that fear was contagious (pg 52). History has shown how apt 5

6 Raven s observation is and that mass groups of people can be easily overcome by hysteria and persuaded to act a certain way or believe certain things. Pick a period in time and see if you can find a situation where Raven s comment applies. Research the particulars of the event and why people reacted the way they did. Write a response piece that combines factual information with your own thoughts about human nature. Literary component: creative writing 1) Write a short piece where a character receives some startling news. You could choose to disclose it slowly to build reader curiosity, as with Raven s story. 2) Imagine you are Raven s father. Write a letter from him to his family. It could be a letter written before his disappearance, hinting at what may come, or it could be a letter written after his disappearance, explaining what happened. After reading the text Class discussion: final thoughts Explore the resolution and have a discussion with the following questions as starting points: What does the novel suggest about family? What do you think of Raven s mother? Do you think the novel says something about human nature and secrecy? How do you feel about Raven s father? Who do you think Raven can and cannot trust? Do you have a clear sense of what happened to Raven s father? How did the ending make you feel? Think about the novel s themes. What is this novel about? What ideas were explored in the action, in the attitudes, and the behaviour of the characters? 6

7 Literacy component Write a response to one of the following questions. Make sure to use examples from the novel to strengthen your answer. 1) Consider this statement: Keeping secrets never ends well. Respond with close reference to the story. 2) The relationship between parent and child is one of the stories told in Missing. Discuss how society expects these relationships to function and how there is a breakdown of roles in the text. 3) How does Raven take on the characteristics of a typical sleuth? 4) What is the impact of Elliott Lucas disappearance on his family? Extension activities 1) Sometimes when one thing went wrong in your life, a particularly big thing, everything was off-colour. (pg 53) Use this as the opening line to a short creative piece. 2) Look at two significant passages that are particularly suspenseful. Write a response that examines how the author uses language to create this atmosphere. 3) Choose a scene and retell it from the point of view of Raven s brother. 4) Research Sherlock Holmes or Nancy Drew and write a brief report on why they are still popular characters. 5) Create a handbook for aspiring detectives. 7

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